Mississippi State Athletics
November 10, 2023
Joel Coleman, Senior Writer
A quick look at 10 items of interest ahead of the Bulldogs’ battle against the Aggies.
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State is all set for its final road game of the 2023 regular season.
Saturday at 6:30 pm, MSU faces Texas A&M in College Station in a battle of the Southeastern Conference’s Maroon-and-White-wearing teams. That much you know. However, there are several things you might not.
So, let’s have a look at 10 items to be aware of headed into State’s showdown against the Aggies:
- Mississippi State is looking to keep up a string of recent success against Texas A&M. On the gridiron, the Bulldogs have topped the Aggies in five of the last seven meetings and six of the last nine.
- The Dawgs have even enjoyed trips to College Station more often than not over the last few journeys to the Lone Star State. MSU has won two of its last three games at Kyle Field, claiming triumphs in 2017 and 2021.
- The 2021 contest at A&M was particularly memorable. The Bulldogs upset the then-15Th-ranked Aggies by a score of 26-22. Quarterback Will Rogers led the way for State as he threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns in the affair. Receiver Makai Polk caught a couple of those scoring tosses and finished with 126 yards receiving.
- A Mississippi State victory over the Aggies on Saturday would bring the Bulldogs within one win of bowl eligibility. MSU has played a bowl game every season since 2010 and is looking for a postseason contest for what would be the 14th consecutive season. State is one of only seven programs in the country that have gone to a bowl game every year since 2010. MSU has the third-longest bowl streak in the SEC, behind only Alabama and Georgia.
- For the second-straight week, Mississippi State defensive line coach David Turner will be squaring off against a former employer. Now in his third stint at MSU, Turner was previously the defensive tackles coach and run game coordinator for Texas A&M in 2016 and 2017.
- MSU linebackers Jett Johnson and Nathaniel Watson enter play this weekend on pace to make history. After the duo led the Southeastern Conference in tackles last season, they’re again pacing the league this year. If Johnson and Watson can remain at the top, they’d be the only SEC players to finish first and second in tackles in back-to-back seasons since tackles became a tracked stat in 2000.
- The Bulldogs enter action Saturday as one of the least penalized teams in the SEC this season. Through nine games, State has been penalized only 53 times – the fourth fewest penalties in the conference.
- One of Texas A&M’s biggest strengths this year has been its defense’s ability to get into the opponent’s backfield and create negative-yardage plays. The Aggies lead the Power 5 with 81 tackles for loss and rank second with 34 sacks this season.
- Offensively, one of A&M’s biggest pieces is receiver Ainias Smith. He’s tallied a 20-plus yard play on 20 different occasions this season. He ranks eighth in the SEC with his 72.4 receiving yards per game and ninth in the league with a 16.7 yards-per-catch average. Smith is also the FBS active career leader in punt return yards.
- After Saturday’s contest, a pair of home games against instate foes are all that’s left to complete the regular-season slate for the Bulldogs. First comes Southern Miss at 11 am on Saturday, November 18. Then, the focus shifts to the Egg Bowl against Ole Miss at 6:30 pm on Thanksgiving night, November 23.