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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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Unbeaten Aggies, Bulldogs to clash in Starkville on Saturday

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Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION Head coach Kevin Sumlin fist-bumps wide receiver Edward Pope at the Arkansas game.  

After an overtime thriller in Arlington, A&M’s venture into the SEC West gauntlet heats up Saturday with the first of three consecutive opponents ranked in the top-12, with two of three on the road.
No. 6 A&M (5-0, 2-0 SEC) travels to Starkville, Miss., this weekend to take on division foe Mississippi State, whom the Aggies have defeated the last two years. The last time the Aggies played inside Davis Wade Stadium, A&M was ranked No. 16 and downed the then-No. 17 Bulldogs 38-13, posting 693 total yards of offense behind a 440-yard performance from Johnny Manziel.
A win will give the Aggies their best start since 1994, when they finished undefeated at 10-0-1.
The No. 12 Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SEC) are coming off a bye week after dropping then-No. 8 LSU in Baton Rouge, La., 34-29 in their last outing, their first win inside Tiger Stadium since 1991. MSU junior quarterback Dak Prescott posted 373 total yards of offense in the win, running for a touchdown and throwing for two more.
“This is a team that’s red hot right now,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Seven straight wins, 500 yards a game this year, scoring a bunch of points — they’ve always been talented defensively, they have a big, athletic defensive line, and their secondary’s very, very good. You look at their performance, and I think the difference is Dak Prescott’s playing at a high level. Because of that, you just look at their last football game, they go into LSU and play the way they played and go up and down the field and score points. You can argue they’re as hot as any team in the country.”
MSU’s defensive line is led by senior defensive end Preston Smith, who garnered SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors the first three weeks of the season. Holding the Tigers to just 89 rushing yards at home, the Bulldogs are known for their size in the front seven and their ability to stop the run in between the tackles.
“They’re probably the largest team we’ll face the entire season,” said offensive coordinator Jake Spavital. “They’re about 300 pounds across the board [on the defensive line,] their linebackers are 6-foot-5, 250 pounds and can run, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge for the offensive line this week, because these guys are pretty hard to move. They’re very talented in rush defense, and that’s the thing I believe they take a lot of pride in. At the same time we have faced them before, we’re familiar with them. They have 10 returning starters, so the majority of our offensive line has seen these guys play, so we know the task at hand and it’s going to be a tough one.”
Despite coming off such an emotional victory last weekend over Arkansas, sophomore quarterback Kenny Hill said he and the team have to employ the “24 hour rule” when it comes to celebrating, and said preparation for this week’s game must become the priority.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Hill said. “They have a great defense, a great front — their front’s unreal and they’re huge.”
Kickoff in Starkville is at 11 a.m. Saturday and the game will be televised on ESPN.

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