The Opening Drive - Mississippi State vs Texas A&M

By: Aggie Gameday Staff Email
By: Aggie Gameday Staff Email

Players to watch - Offense
Johnny Manziel

The Aggie offense is fourth in the country in scoring, putting up 49 points per game, and the leader of that attack is Johnny Manziel. He has thrown for 2,867 yards and 26 touchdowns this season. Manziel has run for 564 yard and eight touchdowns. Don't be surpised if "Johnny Football" puts on another spectaculr show Saturday in what could be his final game in front of the 12th Man.

Players to watch - Defense
Howard Matthews

Defensively, the Aggies have been improving in recent weeks and one reason is the play of Howard Matthews. He seems to have gotten better as the season has gone on. Matthews leads Texas A&M in tackles with 67 and in interceptions with three. All three of his picks have come in the last two games.

Keys to the game
The Aggies need to get off to a fast stat Saturday and get the crowd into the game. Texas A&M has scored on opening offensive series in 18 of 22 games under head coach Kevin Sumlin. 17 of the scores have been touchdowns.

One way to put up points is to be successful in the red zone. The Aggies lead the nation in red zone chances with 61, red zone scores with 50 and red zone total touchdowns with 44. The Aggies are tied with navy for the most red zone rushing touchdowns with 26.

The Aggies have worked their way up the SEC standings in sacks in recent weeks. For the season, A&M is eighth in the conferecne with 16 sacks. Adding to that total Saturday will help the Aggies chances of beating the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State
Players to watch - Offense
Jameon Lewis

The Mississippi State offense has gone through a tough week with quarterback Dak Prescott's mother passing away last sunday. Prescott has made some big plays this season, but for the Bulldogs to be successful Saturday other will have to step up as well. Keep an eye on wide receiver Jameon Lewis who leads the Dogs in receptions with 37 for 491 yards and four touchdowns.

Players to watch - Defense
Deontae Skinner

Defensiely, linebacker Deontae Skinner will need to have solid game as the Bulldogs try to slow down the Aggie offense. Skinner leads Mississippi State with 50 tackles. He also has recorded three and a half tackles for loss and picked off a pass.

Keys to the game
The Bulldogs will have to do a better job of holding onto the football than they did last week. Mississippi State turned the ball over five times against South Carolina in a 34-16 loss.

The Bulldog defense need to stay strong on third down. For the season, they are third in the SEC allowing opponents to convert just 32-percent of the time on third down.

Mississippi State does not want to fall behind early in this game. The Bulldogs are 4 - 0 this season when they lead at halftime but are 0 - 4 when trailing at the half. Mississippi State has lost 10 straight games they have trailed at halftime.

Saturday afternoon's game will be the final game at Kyle Field for 13 seniors. The group is the seventh senior class to play in four bowl games. They have a record of 34 and 14 entering Saturday's games. There have been some big moments during their Aggie careers here in front of the 12th Man.

"I want to say it was when we beat Nebraska my freshman year, I want to say my freshman year and the whole crowd came on the field after the game. We were sawing varsity's horns off. You could feel all the heat behind you and I turned around and like half of the stands are on the field with us just sawing varsity's horns off so I think that is my favorite memory," said Texas A&M linebacker Nate Askew.

"Favorite moment I would probably have to say the win over Nebraska. That really stands out for me because it was great defense. We went out there and put a great showing out there that night and got a win over Nebraska," said Texas A&M defensive back Toney Hurd, Jr.

"The first touchdown I scored was just an incredible memory against Sam Houston State. That was second to none but when I was little and came for the red white and blue game I would say that is probably the biggest memory I have here. To see the student section like that and virtually the whole stadium and it just being a difficult time at that point that was something that has really stuck with me. I can still kind of look out and see the student section just red white and blue so that is probably the biggest memory I have," said Texas A&M wide reciever Travis Labhart.

Mississippi State comes to College Station with a 4 and 4 record. The Bulldogs lost last week to South Carolina 34-16. In that game they had to face one of the best defensive players in the SEC in Jadaveon Clowney. Now, they get one of the best offensive players in Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel who leads the very explosive Texas A&M team.

"Obviously going to be a tough challenge playing one of the best, if not the best, offenses in the country. You say that through a consistency standpoint. The fewest points they've scored in a game this season is 41. A lot of teams put up huge numbers, but statistics can sometimes be deceiving because you have to do it consistently. When 41 is their lowest point total, they're a very, very explosive offense," said Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen.

Saturday will be the seventh meeting between Texas A&M and Mississippi State on the football field. The series is tied up at three wins each. The Aggies won last year's meeting 38-13 in Starkville. Mississippi State won the only meeting in College Station 6-0 back in 1913.

12th Man
The 12th Man for Saturday's game will be Sam Moeller. He has worn the number 12 for all nine games this season. Moeller has recorded five tackles this season. Two of those came last week against UTEP. He is a sophomore defensive back from San Antonio.

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