Two weeks ago, Mississippi State made their first statement as a contender for the SEC West title. A huge win over previously eighth-ranked LSU has shot MSU up to no. 12 in the national polls. The Bulldogs’ bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, letting the team rest and giving the group plenty of time to prepare for when (6) Texas A&M comes into town this Saturday for State’s SEC home opener in the newly expanded Davis Wade Stadium.
This weekend could not be more important to the bulldogs. Having a chance to take down a top ten team for a second consecutive game will sling shot the bulldogs in the SEC West race. Nationally, this is the attention Mississippi State needs to take advantage of. Tim Tebow and the rest of the SEC Nation crew will be in Starkville Saturday morning in the Junction (MSU tailgating area) to broadcast and analyze this huge divisional matchup. Coach Dan Mullen is excited to see Tebow in Starkville this weekend. The two shared a very good relationship and national championship at the University of Florida.
This weekend will also be bringing in a huge brigade of the maroon and white nation. This weekend is Bulldog Bash in Starkville, the biggest weekend in the fall semester. Cook offs and concerts will fill the downtown area and the Bulldog supporters will be flooding in.
The Bulldogs’ key to winning this game is to keep Kenny Hill on the move. If MSU lets Hill get comfortable in the pocket this game is over. The weakness of MSU “Psycho defense” is the secondary, and you would be foolish if Kenny Hill hasn’t realized that. Like always State will have to put their faith in the Bulldog defensive line to cause havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Preston Smith, Chris Jones, Nick James, and the rest of the D-line will have to pin their ears back and get after the Aggies’ back field.
Another key to a Bulldog victory is the MSU offensive line. The suspension of Dillon Day is an issue for Saturday’s matchup. Luckily, Coach Mullen has had two weeks to prepare for this missing link in the “Bulldog Protection Agency.” Two weeks ago former walk-on senior guard Ben Beckwith was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. Beckwith’s number has been called to take control of the snaps against the Aggie defense. His seniority and knowledge of blocking assignments will be vital for success in the trenches, especially without Day snapping the ball.
Lastly, Dak Prescott has to have another superior performance. Prescott threw for 286 yards and ran for 105 in the victory against LSU in Death Valley. Dak must perform just as well against A&M. He can abuse defenses with his feet, and once he has reached level three in the secondary his 6’4″, 230 lb. frame becomes hard to bring down for small defensive backs. If Dak can spread the defense out and keep turnovers to a minimum this game will be going home to the Bulldogs.
All in all, this game can be the foundation the bulldogs need for a shot to play December 6 in Atlanta. Their path doesn’t get much easier with Auburn next week and a chance to have College Gameday on MSU’s campus. Be sure to tune into SEC Nation at 9 a.m. for all SEC coverage live from Starkville, Mississippi. Kickoff is at 11 a.m.
*Section Photo credit to Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Derick E. Hingle, USA Today Sports