Game Time: Noon ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Odds: Texas A&M -11.5, the line opened at -13 and drifted up to -14 at most books before settling down to -11.5. Over/Under 62.
After being slotted in at a surprising number four in the initial 2016 College Football Playoff rankings, Texas A&M (7-1, 4-1 SEC) travels to Starkville to take on SEC West foe Mississippi State (3-5, 1-3 SEC).
The surprise inclusion of the Aggies in the playoff committee’s top four offers a potential route for Kevin Sumlin’s squad to the playoff if they win out. A&M does not leave Kyle Field again after this weekend as Ole Miss, UTSA and LSU all come to College Station to close out the regular season.
Texas A&M should not overlook the Bulldogs though as Dan Mullen’s squad has featured an offense that has, at times, been very productive on the year. MSU’s rushing offense, led by quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, comes into the game ranked tenth in the country in the S&P+ rushing rankings while A&M’s rushing defense is ranked 92nd.
Fitzgerald had a record day in last week’s Samford game as he became the 11th quarterback in history to throw for 400 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game. Archie Manning and Johnny Manziel are the only SEC signal callers to accomplish this feat and Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson did it earlier this season against Syracuse.
Despite record-setting days against South Carolina and Samford, Fitzgerald has had an up and down season as he struggled to the point of being pulled in the fourth quarter against LSU and has thrown six interceptions in the last four games. His strength comes on the ground as he ranks 10th in the SEC in rushing yards per game but is still developing in the passing game.
Texas A&M’s offense has shifted from the Air Raid that most Sumlin teams have featured to a heavier ground game with freshman Trayveon Williams ranking fifth in the SEC in rushing yards per game and third in yards per attempt. Williams will be looking to get back on track as he has been held under 50 yards per game in the Aggies last two (Alabama and New Mexico State) since gaining 217 yards against Tennessee nearly a month ago.