STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the first time since Dec. 31, 2000, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1 SEC) take on the Texas A&M Aggies (6-2, 3-2 SEC), with this possibly being the most important meeting in the series history.
Kickoff from Davis Wade Stadium is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 3, at 11 a.m. CT, with broadcast on ESPN. Those who cannot catch the action on television can listen to the call on the Mississippi State Radio Network or via Sirius Radio (Channel 91) or XM Radio (Channel 91).
Saturday's matchup could provide for a shootout between two teams that have been scoring at will this season. State is averaging 33.0 points per game, which is on pace to break the school's modern-era record of 31.7 set in 1994 and approach the 36.1 record set by the 1914 team. A&M is averaging 45.5 points per game, which stands third in the NCAA through eight games. Both teams will need big days from their defenses to stop each other's opposing high-powered offenses.
Leading that defensive charge for the Bulldogs will be All-American senior defensive back Johnthan Banks, who will be in charge of stopping an Aggie team that is top five in total yards per game. Banks, who was named midseason All-American by six major publications, has intercepted four passes, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble and broken up five passes. The Maben, Miss., native also became the first player in school history to be named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award (outstanding defensive player of the year) and to be named a semifinalist for the Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back in college football) in back-to-back years.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior quarterback Tyler Russell will lead a Bulldog offense that is scoring at a record pace. Russell's leadership has helped the Bulldogs score 27 or more points in seven games, which is only the third time in school history the team has eclipsed 27 in seven games in a single season (1998 and 2000). The Manning Award Watch List QB, who has 15 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions, has already entered the school's top 10 in passing yardage (3,411). He is also on pace to demolish the school single-season record in completions, attempts, passing yardage, and touchdowns.
The visitors from College Station, Texas, will lean heavily on their star freshman quarterback, Johnny Manziel, to lead their high-powered offense. Manziel, who leads the SEC in rushing yards, has 3,009 total yards on the year, with 793 of those on the ground. Manziel ranks among the nation's top 100 statistically in six offensive categories, while being the top freshman in points responsible for, total offense and passing yards.
Nearly 12 years ago, these two teams met in one of the most exciting bowl games in college football history, known as the "Snow Bowl". Through one half, the Aggies led the Bulldogs 20-14 on the snow-covered field. The third quarter only brought one score, from the Bulldogs to take a one-point lead going into the final quarter. A&M opened the fourth with two scores to take a commanding lead, but State answered back to push the game into overtime. A&M scored on the first play of overtime, but State responded quickly. Willie Blade blocked the A&M extra-point attempt, which Justin Griffith scored on. Quarterback Wayne Madkin then ran one in from six yards out to claim victory for the Bulldogs.
After Saturday's Snow Bowl Reunion matchup, the Bulldogs will travel south to Baton Rogue to face the LSU Tigers. Broadcast for television and kickoff time has not been set yet, but the game can be caught on the Mississippi State Radio Network.
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