Texas A&M Aggies: Mississippi State Bulldogs

Film review: Texas A&M 38, Miss. State 13 

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
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Texas A&M dominated Mississippi State to the tune of a 38-13 road win on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium and again, the Aggies were efficient and explosive offensively as well as strong on defense. Let's take a closer look at three plays that tell the story of the Aggies' dominance:

Situation: Texas A&M ball, third-and-2 at the Mississippi State 36 (10:09 left in first quarter)
Score: Texas A&M 0, Mississippi State 0
Result: 24-yard pass from Johnny Manziel to Mike Evans.

The Texas A&M 10: Week 10 

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
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Each week this season, GigEmNation will rank Texas A&M's top 10 performers of the season up to this point. After nine games this season, including Saturday's win over Mississippi State, here's a glance at who has shined so far:

1. DE Damontre Moore
The junior added another sack to his season total, giving him 11.5 for the year, putting him in a three-way tie for the national lead. He continues to lead the country in tackles for loss (19) and is still the team leader in tackles (69) after four on Saturday. Moore also showed his athleticism on Saturday, chasing down Mississippi State receiver Chris Smith from behind on a 42-yard reception.

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Much learned from Aggies' SEC tests

November, 5, 2012
11/05/12
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Johnny ManzielAP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisJohnny Manziel had a great performance against Mississippi State, but was mostly bottled up against some of the Aggies better opponents.

Whether the opponent was a Southeastern Conference foe or an FCS team, Texas A&M has maintained all season that the most important game of the season is the next one.

This week, that approach rings truer than it has all season long as the Aggies will take on No. 1 Alabama.

"That's the biggest game of the season; it's the next game we have coming up," senior linebacker Jonathan Stewart told reporters after the Aggies' 38-13 win over Mississippi State on Saturday. "This game, it was the biggest game of the season until it's over. But it's over now, so we have to focus on playing Alabama. We know they're a great team and we're going on the road once again, we know they're a great team at home and the crowd gets fired up. They have a great head coach, great defense, great offense so it's going to be a great game and we're all excited for it."

Coming into the season, there would have been many observers willing to dismiss any chances the Aggies would have against the SEC's elite, such as Alabama or LSU.

But the No. 15 Aggies have exceeded expectations, jumping out to a 7-2 start and becoming a factor in the SEC West, where they are currently second (4-2) behind the undefeated Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0 SEC).

Their two losses, however, have come to two of their toughest opponents: Florida and LSU.

Neither loss was decisive. Both were games in which the Aggies led by double digits and were in the game until the final minute. So what can be gleaned from those two games as the Aggies face another high-caliber opponent in the Crimson Tide?

Positives:

Fast starts: In both games, the Aggies were strong offensively in the first half. Against Florida, they jumped out to a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter. Against LSU, the Aggies raced to a 12-0 lead at around the same time. In both cases, the offense was moving the chains and humming along relatively smoothly.

Good defense: The Texas A&M defense has kept the Aggies within striking distance in both affairs, even when the offense stalled. Against Florida, they yielded just 307 yards and against LSU, the total was 316. There were some big plays allowed in both games but overall, the defense was solid. Against Florida, the Aggies picked up eight sacks.

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3 Up, 3 Down: TAMU 38, Miss. State 13 

November, 4, 2012
11/04/12
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Texas A&M got off to another fast start and won another Southeastern Conference road game by double digits, rolling to a 38-13 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Let's look at the good and the bad of the win:

THREE UP

1. Johnny Manziel: The redshirt freshman quarterback turned in another memorable performance, going 30-of-36 passing for 311 yards and rushing for 129 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. He had a few of his signature "Johnny Football" moments and had the offense running on cruise control for much of the day.

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Instant analysis: Texas A&M 38, MSU 13

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
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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.

Prediction/matchups: A&M vs. Miss. State 

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
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Texas A&M 31, Mississippi State 27

Of all the games on the Aggies' schedule, this feels the closest to a coin flip, point spread notwithstanding. The teams are next to each other in the rankings (the Bulldogs are 15th in the BCS standings, A&M 16th), both have performed above preseason expectations and both teams' only losses are to ranked foes (the Aggies dropped games to Florida and LSU; Alabama is Mississippi State's only defeat). There appears to be good quarterback play on both sides with Johnny Manziel for Texas A&M and Tyler Russell for Mississippi State. Davis Wade Stadium, in all its cowbell-filled glory, is no picnic, but coach Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies have excelled on the road this year, winning all four games away from Kyle Field. This one will be the toughest to date on paper, with the toughest of the year awaiting a week later at Alabama. If the Aggies and Manziel take care of the football -- and I'm going to guess that they do -- then this team is good enough to go into Starkville, Miss., and get a quality road win. Behind a balanced offensive attack, and some pressure applied to Russell defensively and some key third-down defense, I'm going to say the Aggies pull it off in a close, hard-fought battle.

Player to watch: Mike Evans, Texas A&M

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Five storylines: A&M vs. Mississippi State 

November, 1, 2012
11/01/12
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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.

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Texas A&M stands No. 18 in initial BCS 

October, 14, 2012
10/14/12
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The first Bowl Championship Series standings of the 2012 season were released on Sunday evening, and Texas A&M came in at no. 18.

The Aggies (5-1), who are coming off a thrilling 59-57 win over Louisiana Tech, were ranked in the top 20 of both human polls, sitting at no. 20 in the Associated Press poll and at no. 19 in the USA Today Coaches Poll (which is part of the BCS formula).

In the initial BCS standings, the Aggies sit in a good position, but most of their tough work is ahead of them. Still remaining on their schedule are dates with three squads ranked above them in the BCS standings: No. 6 LSU (on Saturday), at No. 12 Mississippi State (on Nov. 3) and at No. 1 Alabama (on Nov. 10). Those all will be tough tests for a rising A&M squad, and this week's upcoming battle against LSU should give us a good barometer on how far along the Aggies truly are heading into SEC-heavy portion of their schedule.

As of the moment, ESPN's Mark Schlabach has the Aggies projected to play Northwestern in the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl, while Brad Edwards has them positioned to play Georgia Tech in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City. You can see the full ESPN bowl projections here.

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When safety Shaan Washington (Alexandria, La./Alexandria) visited Texas A&M this spring, he got a good feeling.

As he talked with head coach Kevin Sumlin, he felt a sense of comfort. Sumlin wasn't pressuring him to commit then and there, but rather encouraging the 6-2, 210-pound safety to visit and talk with other schools and compare them to the Aggies before deciding.

But when it was all said and done, Washington liked what he saw in College Station and verbally committed to the Aggies on Monday, adding yet another defensive player to the Aggies' 2013 recruiting class.

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