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Saturday, November 3, 2012
Instant analysis: Texas A&M 38, MSU 13

By Sam Khan Jr.


For the second straight week, Texas A&M started quickly on the road and took a commanding lead, this time doing so en route to a 38-13 win over Mississippi State on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.

It was over when: Johnny Manziel scampered into the end zone on an 8-yard option keeper with 5:59 left in the fourth quarter. That gave the Aggies a 25-point lead with little time left.

Game ball goes to: It sounds like a broken record, but how do you not give it to Manziel? The numbers he puts up and the plays he makes have made this offense go. On Saturday, he was 30 of 36 passing for 311 yards and finished with 129 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. That's 440 offensive yards for the redshirt freshman quarterback.

Game ball, Part 2: The Aggies' offensive line. The unit paved the way for another huge rushing day as the Aggies rolled to 361 yards on the ground. (Last week against Auburn, Texas A&M had 352 rushing yards.) And Manziel was sacked just once. The reason he has time to make all those plays is in large part due to the protection he receives from the quintet of Luke Joeckel, Jarvis Harrison, Patrick Lewis, Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Matthews. Also, credit to the defense is much deserved. The unit pressured Mississippi State quarterback Tyler Russell consistently and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard in the first half to allow the Aggies to take a 24-0 lead. The unit held the Bulldogs to 85 yards in the first half.

Rising star: Ben Malena. Rising stars are often associated with young players, so it's hard to think of Malena in this way, but the junior running back continues to improve and produce on a weekly basis. He led the Aggies running backs again in rushing, this time with 112 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He caught two passes for 23 yards and also had a special teams tackle on kick coverage.

What it means: This is the second straight resounding road win for the Aggies in the Southeastern Conference. It has become increasingly clear that this team is a legitimate threat in the SEC West. At 7-2 overall and 4-2 in league play, the Aggies take their perfect road record to a big-time showdown with No. 1 Alabama next week in Tuscaloosa, Ala. It will be the Aggies toughest game to date, but after playing two ranked SEC foes closely (LSU and Florida), this team looks like it has the ability to at least be a threat to the Crimson Tide.