There were quite a few eyes looking upon the progress of Mississippi State and Texas A&M on Saturday.
Bowl representatives from the Cotton, Outback, Chick-fil-A, Capital One and Liberty were in attendance, along with members of the Jim Thorpe Association and National Football League scouts from the Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl was scouting as many as eight games on Saturday and representative Larry Terry said their game looks for programs with a good fanbase, good teams and star players.
The Bulldogs and Aggies both fit the criteria on Terry's list, but expressed that there is still work to do for each with three games left in the season.
MSU (7-2 overall, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) didn't help its cause Saturday by losing to Texas A&M 38-13, but the Aggies (7-2 overall, 4-2 SEC) certainly improved their standing.
"You've got to play your way into our bowl and either one of these teams are candidates for it," Terry said.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl has a 7.1 million total team payout.
The last time Mississippi State was at the Chick-fil-A Bowl was on Dec. 30, 1999, when it was still known as the Peach Bowl with Chick-fil-A as the sponsor.
"We'd love to have them back and they travel well," Terry said. "I met some of the fans (Friday) night at one of the restaurants here. They are excited about it and would love to come back, but with that said, we'd also like to have Texas A&M. Being their first year in the SEC, they've heard a lot about our bowl and they'd love to be there as well."
This year's Chick-fil-A Bowl will be played on Dec. 31 at 6:30 p.m. in Atlanta.
Russell ties mark
for passing TDs
Junior quarterback Tyler Russell tied the single-season mark for touchdowns passes at Mississippi State with his 16th.
He had a 14-yard scoring completion to Chad Bumphis in the third quarter.
Russell tied Derrick Taite, who also had 16 touchdown passes in 1995.
The Meridian native also had his fifth 200-yard passing game this season, which is one game shy of tying the single-season school mark set by Tommy Pharr in 1968 and tied by Dave Marler in 1978.
Boyd on the block
Bulldog senior defensive tackle Josh Boyd blocked his first kick of the season in the second quarter.
It was the first blocked kick for MSU this season and the first since the 2011 Music City Bowl against Wake Forest.
catches for Clark
MSU senior wide receiver Arceto Clark had a career-high tying five catches for 64 yards.
Baker comes home
Johnny Baker was chosen as MSU's honorary captain for the Texas A&M game.
Baker has a banner career as a defensive end for the Bulldogs from 1960-62.
He was a second team All-Southeastern Conference selection by Associated Press and United Press International in 1961. He was picked first-team All-SEC by the Associated Press in 1962 and second-team by UPI.
After his time in college was complete, Baker was a third round selection in the 1963 National Football League draft by the Los Angeles Rams. He spent the 1963-66 seasons with the Houston Oilers from 1963-66, then played with the San Diego Chargers in 1967.
Baker is a member of the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame, the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame and was recognized as a Southeastern Conference Legend.