Mississippi State coach DanÂ Mullen watches his team during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Alabama at Bryant-Denny Stadium. (Photo by Dave Martin, AP)
It's important to the success of any college football program to be able to defend the home turf.
In the mind of Mississippi State football coach Dan Mullen, it's the only way to compete for a Southeastern Conference championship.
The No. 17 (Associated Press) Bulldogs (7-1, 3-1) are looking to stay unbeaten at home when the No. 16 (Associated Press) Texas A&M Aggies (6-2, 3-2) make their first trip to Starkville as part of the SEC.
Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
â€śOne thing weâ€™ve always stressed (that) to put yourself in a position to win championships, you have to win all of your home games," MSU head coach Dan Mullen said in his Monday press conference. "(It's) especially (important) in this conference with how hard it is to win on the road."
Bulldog have fans have done a good job of making Davis Wade Stadium a loud place to play over the last couple of seasons.
"We need a great home-field advantage out of our fan base, as theyâ€™ve done all year for us," Mullen said. "I know itâ€™s an early kickoff, but it really should be an exciting game for us."
The last time MSU and Texas A&M squared off was Dec. 31, 2000 in the Independence Bowl. It has come to be known as the Snow Bowl as snow covered the field in Shreveport, La., that cold evening.
Wayne Madkin, the quarterback at the time for the Bulldogs, rushed it in from 6 yards out to give State the 41-38 win in overtime.
"It kind of kicks that all back up again," Mullen said of the matchup with the Aggies. "Theyâ€™re honoring that team at halftime during the game, so it should be pretty exciting for us.â€ť
Aggies bring tough
offense to town
Texas A&M leads the conference in total offense with 522.4 yards per game.
The Aggies also lead in rushing offense with 225.6 yards per game and passing offense with 296.8 yards per outing.
â€ś(It is) a real tough challenge," Mullen said. "Obviously, theyâ€™ve got the best offense in the SEC in yards and points, and they put up huge numbers offensively. (They have) big, big stats with a lot of different playmakers on the field and tremendous skill at every position."
The Texas A&M offense is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manzie leads the SEC in total offense with 352.6 yards per game. He is eighth in rushing with 82 yards and ranked second in
passing with 270.6 yards through the air.
"They spread out all over the field and they have great athletes, so youâ€™ve got to defend all these great athletes all over the field," Mullen said. "Oftentimes, you leave (Manziel) in the box all by himself, and heâ€™s got tremendous athletic ability and the ability to keep plays alive â€“ to improvise."
for postseason awards
MSU senior defensive back and former East Webster High School player Johnthan Banks was selected as a semifinalists for both the Chuck Bednarik Award and the Jim Thorpe Award on Monday.
The Bednarik Award goes to the most outstanding defensive player, while the Thorpe Award goes to the nation's top defensive back.
Banks is the first Bulldog to be put on the semifinalists list for the Bednarik Award. He is also the first Bulldog to be a semifinalists in consecutive seasons for the Thorpe Award.
on injury report
Freshman defensive back Cedric Jiles missed last week and will more than likely miss this week's game with an injury.
Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Archie Muniz is questionable with a slight LCL strain.
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"This time of year everybody is bumped and bruised and everybody has a boot on," Mullen said. "Everybody has tape and ice all over their bodies but that happens in the Southeastern Conference.â€ť