Heading into Saturday’s matchup with Mississippi State, No. 11 Texas A&M had not won in Starkville, Miss., in eight years.
The Aggies snapped their losing streak in Davis Wade Stadium with a 28-14 win over the Bulldogs, courtesy of a dominant run game and an overwhelming defense.
“I thought our defense was outstanding on the day,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “I thought they tackled well, kept great presence on the ball, had six sacks. I thought they played an outstanding football game.”
After a slow start to the game with a scoreless first quarter, A&M’s first drive of the second quarter established the dominance of the run game for A&M. The duo of sophomore running backs Isaiah Spiller and Ainais Smith combined for an eight-play, 66-yard drive ending in the game's first score.
“We need to run the ball or he’s [Fisher] going to want to pass the ball,” senior offensive lineman Carson Green said. “I don’t really like passing the ball… our big thing is, ‘Guys, we need to make sure that we can show him we’re gonna run the ball’ so he doesn't want to call pass plays.”
Spiller came into the game leading the SEC in yards per carry (6.9) and yards after contact. After posting his second consecutive 100-plus yard rushing game, Spiller had 114 yards and two touchdowns.
After the game's first scoring drive, A&M forced a Mississippi State three-and-out that resulted in a blocked punt and the ball being recovered on the one yard line, leading to a touchdown for the Aggies.
The first drive of the second half resulted in a pass from senior quarterback Kellen Mond that was deflected 15 yards away, where it was caught by Mississippi State cornerback Emmanuel Forbes and returned 60 yards for a touchdown.
“We get a ricochet ball that goes all the way back and they run it back,” Fisher said. “We answered up offensively, come right back with a big-time drive… Two really great catches by [sophomore wide receiver] Chase Lane and throws by Kellen.”
Mississippi State's next drive resulted in quarterback K.J. Costello fumbling the ball and an A&M senior defensive tackle recovering the ball on the 8-yard line, leading to another touchdown. After the fumble, which was Costello’s 14th turnover of the year, he was replaced by freshman Will Rogers.
Rogers led Mississippi State’s offense to its first points in eight quarters, and ended the game 15-of-18 with 120 yards.
The Aggies ran out the last five minutes of the clock on a drive that saw Smith get eight carries for 38 yards, ending the game on the 1-yard line.
A&M will get a week of rest before hosting Arkansas on Oct. 31. Fisher said this week will be less for rest and more for preparation.
“There is no bye week,” Fisher said. “It’s a work week and we have to get better. We’re proud of the kids and we won the football game, just have to clean up all the things we got.”