The other SEC west match up this weekend will serve as the undercard for the Alabama-LSU game, but don’t sleep on this game because for the first time since 2001 two ranked teams will be on the field at Davis Wade Stadium.
Saturday’s game will also be a rematch of the 2000 Independence Bowl that was played during an extremely rare snow storm in Louisiana and affectionately dubbed the “Snow Bowl” and both teams will wear uniforms commemorating the occasion.
Mississippi State may be faced with some doubt or uncertainty following the 38-7 loss to the defending champions, but the team is still tied for second place in the division and this is a pivotal game where a win Saturday can be the difference between a good year and a historic year.
Typically this would be the type of game Mississippi State would lose in years past, but Dan Mullen is changing the culture in Starkville and his team must attack this test as a must-win and play with a sense of urgency and desperation to avoid a potential pitfall in November and kill all the goodwill the 7-0 start built.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M is rolling after a 63-21 win over the hapless Tigers from Auburn. The Aggies boast one of the best offenses in the country. The team is led by Johnny Manziel; perhaps the best dual-threat quarterback in the country not named Collin Klein, and the redshirt freshmen has directed his team to an average of 45.5 points per game.
The third ranked scoring offense in the nation will be tested by an opportunistic defense that led the nation in turnover margin before heading into their game at Alabama that’s led by seniors Johnthan Banks and Cameron Lawrence.
Manziel has been very good through the air, leading the conference in completions, but what separates him from the other quarterbacks in the league is his prowess on the ground. The Kerrville, Texas native leads the SEC in rushing with 793 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Second place on the rushing rankings is State’s LaDarius Perkins with 762 yards who led the conference before last week and had his streak of scoring in seven straight games snapped last weekend.
If Manziel does not turn the ball over, which he has been prone to do at times this season, against a team that forces a lot of turnovers then the Aggies could pick up their third conference road win of the year in their inaugural season in the SEC.
However, if State can run the ball with Perkins and convert third down opportunities thus keeping Manziel and company off the field, then the home team should escape with a win provided they convert red zone trips with touchdowns and not field goals.
The team that plays the cleanest game and limits penalties, turnovers, and mental mistakes will be victorious on Saturday. I tend to think that favors the home team with an experienced quarterback and defense.
Prediction: Mississippi State wins 28-27
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.