On Saturday night, while Georgia and Alabama grab most of the headlines in the SEC this fall, two other teams have a great deal to play for on ESPN.
With Kentucky having played themselves out of the mix and Auburn having three losses (though still a contender to reach the SEC title game), Texas A&M and Ole Miss are at 7-2 and the winner has a real chance for a Super Six bowl bid if they finish 10-2. That raises the stakes for this matchup and if Auburn could somehow upset Alabama, the Aggies could win the SEC West at 10-2, holding the tiebreaker with wins over both Alabama football programs.
Texas A&M Aggies vs. Mississippi Rebels
Saturday, November 13, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium
The betting odds at BetMGM have Texas A&M as a 2.5-point road favorite with the total at 55.5. Of note here is the Aggies opened at -1 and the total was three digits higher at 58.5. This points to the Texas A&M defense controlling the action. Will that happen or is something else possible?
Aggies Playing to Strengths: Defense and Running Game
We have no idea if Jimbo Fisher was born at night, but we are sure it wasn’t last night when it comes to being a top-flight football coach. Texas A&M was expected to be a Top 10 program this year under his direction and though he welcomed all the accolades, he knew he lacked high-end quarterback play when made freshman Haynes King the starter.
When King was hurt in the narrow win over Colorado, Plan B was backup Zach Calzada, and losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State set the wheels in motion for an 8-4 season.
But Fisher understood he had a Top 10 defense and after it was manhandled by Arkansas and they could not stop Mike Leach’s passing offense, something had to change.
Fisher coached up Calzada, who was brilliant in the upset of Bama. The offensive line came together as a unit and the defensive front seven has become impossible to block as Auburn found out last week.
The Aggies run offense was at 167 yards a game after five contests and has averaged 221 YPG since.
After being shoved around for 197 yards by the Razorbacks and an average of 170 in their first four ball games, Texas A&M stop troops have cut that total in half (85 YPG) in the five conflicts since. This A&M bunch has found its identity.
Ole Miss Will Have to Run and Create Turnovers to Win
When you think of Mississippi football, the first thing that comes to mind is the offense. Under Lane Kiffin, this is particularly true, ranked 4th in total offense at 524 YPG. Quarterback Matt Corral is the field general, able to pass and run with equal aplomb.
What makes the Kiffin’s offense work is the run-game and the speed at which they play with and it will be imperative Ole Miss is somewhere in the 180 to 200 yards range on the ground even if they are below their average of 238.
Mississippi has to dictate the tempo and being able to run and stay on schedule for down and distance is imperative to help Corral in the passing game, to have success as Alabama and Mississippi State did versus the A&M secondary.
Though the Rebels defense has improved by 87 yards from a year ago, they are still 105th in total defense. Kiffin’s crew slips to 110th against the run, permitting 195 YPG on the ground. To knock off Texas A&M, Ole Miss will have to sell out on the run on first down and take their chance that Calzada can beat them throwing. The more Calzada has to toss the pigskin around, the higher the chances of the home team getting their 2+ turnovers a game, as they have in their last five games.
Who Covers the Sportsbooks Spread?
For college football picks, we truly wanted to take a home underdog that can score points. But here is the issue, Mississippi’s weaknesses are the Aggies’ strengths. Texas A&M can run the ball and the Rebels cannot stop it.
Ole Miss needs the run for a balanced offense and the visitor is stifling every ground attack.
When continuing our research we uncovered the Aggies are 7-0 ATS as road favorites under Fisher and 9-1 ATS away vs. teams with a completion percentage of 62% or higher. It all adds up to Texas A&M.
NCAAF Pick: Texas A&M -2.5 (-110) at BetMGM