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Five storylines: A&M vs. Mississippi State

10/31/2012

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M bounced back from a loss to LSU with a dominating 63-21 win at Auburn on Saturday. It will play its second game in a three-game SEC road swing this week, heading to Starkville for an 11 a.m. Saturday meeting with No. 15 Mississippi State. Here are five storylines to look for when the No. 16 Aggies take the field.

1. Measuring stick

Texas A&M has played three ranked teams this season and is 1-2 in those games. It fell to Florida and LSU, but defeated Louisiana Tech. Mississippi State will be the fourth ranked team the Aggies play and this will be the first time the Aggies go on the road to face a ranked SEC team. Conversely for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs didn't play a ranked team until meeting No. 1 Alabama last week, falling 38-7 to the Crimson Tide. So this will be a good measuring stick for both teams.

2. Moving up in the SEC West

Not only are the Aggies and Bulldogs next to each other in the rankings, they're next to each other in the SEC West standings. Texas A&M (3-2) is a half-game behind the Bulldogs (3-1). The Aggies want to continue to move up while the Bulldogs would like to inch back toward the top after falling out of a tie for the top spot with last week's loss.

3. Bowl implications?

Assuming that neither team wins the SEC West title -- which is still possible for both, though each team would need help with teams above them losing -- both teams are bowl eligible and this game could have a lot of say in what bowl each end up going to. Chick-fil-A Bowl representatives will be present at the game according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.

4. Quick start Aggies

In each of their last two road games, the Aggies have put up the points in bunches early in the ballgame. Against Auburn, the Aggies had 28 points before the Tigers even converted a first down. Against Louisiana Tech, Texas A&M jumped out to a 27-0 lead before the Bulldogs responded. Both were the result of a good offensive and defensive effort and both resulted in wins. Can the Aggies do it again?

5. Road perfection

Texas A&M is 4-0 away from Kyle Field, winning three road games and beating Louisiana Tech in Shreveport, La., which was practically a road game since it was roughly an hour from the Bulldogs' home field. Kevin Sumlin's teams have won 10 straight away from home (Houston went 6-0 on the road last year under Sumlin). Can the Aggies stay perfect when they head to Davis-Wade Stadium, the home of thousands of cowbell-ringing fans?