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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M outfielder Jace Laviolette (17) robs a home run from Florida infielder Cade Kurland (4) in the top of the ninth inning during Texas A&M’s game against Florida at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, Nebraska on Sunday, June 15, 2024. (Hannah Harrison/The Battalion)
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Same time, same place

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Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION

Texas A&M versus Mississippi State — a battle between top-25 teams, a Heisman candidate quarterback, a team looking to take the next step into national prominence, with an 11 a.m. kickoff on ESPN. Déjà vu, anyone?
We’ve seen this before. The parallels between this game and the 2012 contest are striking, and this weekend’s matchup holds similar implications to the contest two years ago.
Bulldog fans thought their squad was for real in 2012. They won their first seven games and the buzz around Starkville was that MSU was a legitimate SEC West contender. Then Alabama routed them 38-7 in Tuscaloosa, and things went downhill fast.
A&M came to Davis Wade Stadium that year looking much improved after a couple of tough losses to SEC stalwarts Florida and LSU at home. Still, the Aggies had exceeded expectations up until that point in the season and were poised to finish the year at a respectable 8-4 or 9-3. However, the A&M that rolled into Starkvegas that day was not the team that turned the ball over six times against Ole Miss and five against LSU. Rather, it was a team that would go on to finish in the top five and upset No. 1 Alabama on the road.
The Aggies came out early on Saturday and ran over the Bulldogs 38-13, shutting them out in the first half and posting 693 total yards of offense. We’ll see if history can repeat itself this weekend, though the storyline is a bit different this time around.
MSU had a very tough loss the week before the played the Aggies two years ago. This year, they’re coming off arguably their program’s biggest win in a decade after a huge upset of LSU in Baton Rouge. The Aggies, on the other hand, aren’t taking anybody by surprise anymore after Johnny Manziel laid waste to the conference’s defenses for two years, and MSU is certainly hungry for some revenge after getting blown out at home and giving up 51 points at Kyle Field last year.
However, MSU may be the real deal this year. This team looks oddly similar to the national championship-caliber Florida teams that Dan Mullen was a part of under Urban Meyer, at least in terms of philosophy, and more importantly, quarterback play. Dak Prescott is built like Tim Tebow, plays like Tim Tebow and will hurt you like Tim Tebow. He’s big, physical, can run and is the leader of his team. It’s not surprising that the Bulldogs have looked so promising this season when you know Mullen has finally found a quarterback who can do the same things Tebow was able to do during his stint with the Gators. The defense isn’t too shabby, either.
It’s good this game is in the morning, as early games always favor the road team. The crowd isn’t as awake as it would be in an afternoon or evening game, and a fast-starting team like A&M loves to capitalize on teams early and jump all over them out of the gate.
Sumlin is the best coach in the country at preparing his teams for road games, compiling a 13-2 road record at A&M through a little more than two years. The Aggies are also 4-1 in games before noon under Sumlin, something interesting to chew on.
All told, this is going to be a close one. With brutal road trips to Tuscaloosa and Auburn left, the Aggies need to win this game if their bid for a division title is going to become a reality. However, this game has Kevin Sumlin written all over it, so don’t be surprised if Kenny Hill and Co. come out guns blazing early. He and his teammates may be in for a firefight.

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