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Texas A&M Football

No. 11 Aggies hoping to erase memories of Starkville letdowns on Saturday

October 16, 2020
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Johnny Manziel could tap dance on quicksand. He demonstrated that in 2012.

Manziel rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-13 Texas A&M Southeastern Conference football victory over Mississippi State. Eight years later, it remains the Aggies' only victory in Starkville.

The playing surface of Davis Wade Stadium is like quicksand to Aggies. There, A&M’s hopes for grandeur have been sucked under and perished.

“It’s a tough place to play. They’ve got the cowbells. They’re really loud. It is what it is. We’ve just got to go in there, do our thing and come out with a victory.”
- A&M center Ryan McCollum

“It’s a tough place to play,” A&M center Ryan McCollum said. “They’ve got the cowbells. They’re really loud. It is what it is. We’ve just got to go in there, do our thing and come out with a victory.”

That’s been a futile effort since Manziel departed A&M.

In 2014, A&M was 5-0 and ranked No. 6, but a rash of dropped passes and three Kenny Hill interceptions resulted in a 48-31 loss.

In 2016, the 7-1 Aggies were fourth in the College Football Playoff rankings. However, an early injury to quarterback Trevor Knight, missed scoring opportunities and soft run defense resulted in a 35-28 loss to the porous Bulldogs.

In 2018, the No. 16 Aggies routinely gave up big plays on third down in a 28-13 loss.

Again, the Aggies appear to be the superior team. A&M (2-1) is ranked No. 11 and coming off a 41-38 victory over Florida.

Quarterback Kellen Mond has passed for more than 600 yards and six touchdowns in the past two games. Running back Isaiah Spiller rushed for 174 yards and two touchdowns against Florida.

Meanwhile, Mississippi State (1-2) has suffered consecutive losses to Arkansas and Kentucky, and the Bulldogs’ offense has managed just two touchdowns since a season-opening 44-34 victory over LSU.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports
Mike Leach’s offense hasn’t performed well in the last two weeks, but the Bulldogs’ Air Raid can still be dangerous.

There is speculation out of Starkville that coach Mike Leach may start freshman quarterback Will Rogers rather than K.J. Costello, who has thrown nine interceptions.

Yet, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher remains wary. Perhaps that’s because he’s aware of the potential of Leach’s Air Raid offense. Perhaps it’s because the Aggies defense has allowed four touchdown passes in each of the last two games.

“Mike has always thrown the football around,” Fisher said. “He’s done a great job, and he’s very sneaky with how he plays in the running game. He’ll lull you to sleep on those quick screens and the running game he’ll have.

“You’re going to have to play disciplined, hard, tough football. We’re going to have to tackle in space very well. Going to have to contain guys. Keep leverage on the football.

“It’s going to be a challenge for our defense.”

Of course, it is. It’s always a challenge in Starkville.

Maybe the Aggies will finally prove to be up for the challenge again.

Discussion from...

No. 11 Aggies hoping to erase memories of Starkville letdowns on Saturday

3,041 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 3 days ago by Fedup
AgOutsideAustin
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AG
For the love of God please don't have the freshman QB make his first career start against us !!!
Iraq2xVeteran
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AG
In 2014, Mississippi State finished 10-3 with losses to eventual SEC Champion 12-2 Alabama, 9-4 Ole Miss, and 10-2 Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. They also finished second in the SEC West, and that was Dan Mullen's only winning SEC record at MSU.

The only disappointing loss in Starkville was in 2016. 3-5 MSU had already lost to South Alabama 21-20 at home in Week 1 and 28-21 in overtime at BYU in Week 7. Even FCS Samford scored 41 points against MSU a week earlier. I know Trevor Knight got injured in the second quarter of a 35-28 loss at Mississippi State, but our defense allowed 574 total yards (209 passing and 365 rushing) and 35 points. Two weeks after later, 7-5 Arkansas pounded Mississippi State 58-42 on that same field. MSU finished the regular season 5-7, but there weren't enough 6-6 teams that year. As a result, the St Petersburgh Bowl invited MSU based on their academic progress rating (APR) score, and they defeated Miami-Ohio 17-16 to finish 6-7.

In 2018, Mississippi State had the second best scoring defense (allowed 13.2 points per game) in the nation, behind only Clemson. They finished 8-5, including a 27-22 loss to Iowa in the Outback Bowl, because their offense struggled. We fell behind 28-13 in the fourth quarter, and there was no way we could have scored 15 unanswered points against that very stingy defense.

Like in 2016, I am expecting a win at Starkvile for the first time since 2012. Through three games, MSU has 14 giveaways (9 interceptions and 5 fumbles) to 5 takeaways (2 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries) for a turnover margin of -9. I believe we should win the turnover margin by at least 2. MSU's defense has actually played fairly well during their past two games. Without the pick-sixes, they held Arkansas to 14 offensive points and Kentucky to 17 offensive points. I would like a double-digit win at Starkville, but I won't be surprised if their defense keeps the game close.
Fedup
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Really need to play well today.
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