The Texas A&M Aggies came to Starkville and avoided a letdown from their big win last week. They grinded out a 28-14 win against a struggling Mississippi St. Bulldogs squad, as the Aggies battered the Bulldogs in the trenches on both sides to improve to 3-1 on the year.
It look almost a whole quarter, and a Myles Jones interception in the endzone on a very bad pass from K.J. Costello before A&M was able get a full grip on the game. When they finally did it was behind their stud running back Isaiah Spiller. Starting with the ball at their own, the Aggies conducted an 8 play drive that consisted of seven Spiller runs and one run by Ainias Smith that ended with Spiller plowing into the end zone on the first play of the 2nd quarter.
Three plays later, Chris Russell Jr. blocked Tucker Day’s punt and A&M recovered on the 1-yd line. Spiller would score again on the next play and all of a sudden A&M had a death grip on the contest. Spiller finished with 114 yards in addition to his 2 touchdowns and was clearly the Aggies best player on offense on the day. His quarterback, Kellen Mond (13-23, 139 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT) had a fairly nondescript day, responding to his big mistake, a Emmanuel Forbes Pick-6, with a long catch-and-run TD pass to Chase Lane before also throwing a TD pass to Smith after LB Buddy Johnson’s sack-fumble on Costello deep in MSU territory.
While the strength vs. strength matchup played out as close to a draw as Mike Leach’s crew could hope fore, it was the matchup of the weaker units where Texas A&M dominated the game. The Aggies were content to let the Bulldogs go nowhere fast, as was most evident when Mississippi State had a 13 play drive that went only 27 yards and ended in a punt. The Aggie defensive backs were able to keep everything in front of them in the passing game, and whatever meager threat existed in the MSU backfield was gone when Leach revealed that Kylin Hill was not available for the team today for reasons unknown (Sacks included they finished with -2 rushing yards).
Costello (15-22, 99 yards, 1 INT) managed to avoid another avalanche of INTs but was pulled after his fumble set up the Mond-to-Smith TD that put the score at 28-7. Will Rogers(15-18, 120 yards, 1 TD) came in and after a quick 3-and-out on his first drive, put together the first good looking drive for the MSU offense in weeks, going 89 yards on 13 plays and finishing it with a 32 yard strike to Malik Heath(5 rec, 57 yards, 1 TD) for the score. It was to little to late though and after one more exchange of punts Texas A&M was able to run out the clock.
With their win vs LSU even further in the rearview mirror now, Mississippi State will have to hope Leach can make some adjustments during their week off(he won’t) as they head to Bryant-Denny to face Alabama in their next game. Texas A&M, meanwhile, will host an upstart Arkansas squad as they try to grind out enough wins to earn a SEC title game berth.