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The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 6, 7:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (60,580) -- Oxford, Mississippi. Television: ESPN U. Home Record: Texas A&M 2-1, Ole Miss 2-1. Away Record: Texas A&M 1-0, Ole Miss 1-1. Neutral Record: Texas A&M 0-0, Ole Miss 0-0. Conference Record: Texas A&M 1-1, Ole Miss 0-1. Series Record: Texas A&M leads, 4-0.
GAME NOTES: A pair of upstart SEC teams try to shoot up the standings on Saturday night, as the Texas A&M Aggies pull into Oxford to take on the Ole Miss Rebels.
After losing its opener against nationally-ranked Florida (20-17), Texas A&M has won three consecutive games, including its first-ever SEC bout last Saturday in a 58-10 thrashing of Arkansas in College Station.
With three wins so far, Ole Miss has already improved upon last season's dismal 2-10 effort. The Rebels faced a difficult task in its first conference game of the season against top-ranked Alabama, but they played well on the road in a 33-14 loss. Despite their early-season success, they still have a big hurdle to get over as they have lost 15 straight games against SEC opponents dating back to 2010.
The Aggies have won all four previous meetings in the all-time series with Ole Miss, although the teams have not met since 1980.
Texas A&M's offense has been electrifying this year, ranking seventh in the nation in scoring (48.3 ppg) and 12th in total yards (525.8 ypg). It is coming off a 716-yard performance against Arkansas -- the third-highest output in school history.
Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel is also fresh off a record-setting showing. In just his fourth career start, Manziel broke the SEC record for total yards in a game, amassing 557 yards (454 passing, 104 rushing) to go along with four total touchdowns. The performance only added to a sensational start for the rookie, as he has completed more than 70 percent of his passes (87-of-124) for 1,094 yards with 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 366 yards and six scores on the ground.
Mike Evans (24 receptions 307 yards, TD), Ryan Swope (17 receptions, 236 yards, two TDs) and Thomas Johnson (15 receptions, 208 yards) have all benefited from Manziel's hot start. Uzoma Nwachukwu has been a huge red-zone threat, with half of his eight catches resulting in scores.
When Manziel isn't running wild, the work out of the backfield is split between Ben Malena, Trey Williams and Christine Michael, the trio combining for 389 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Aggies have a stellar defensive unit to back up their outstanding offense, as they currently rank eighth in the country in points allowed (11.8 ppg).
Damontre Moore is among the FBS leaders in both tackles for loss (10.5) and sacks (six). Steven Terrell has made big plays in the secondary with 13 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception.
The Ole Miss offense has taken big steps forward this season, putting up 32.2 ppg on 434 ypg, while scoring touchdowns on 80 percent of its trips to the red zone (12-of-15).
Although he was slowed by the Alabama defense last week, Bo Wallace has been impressive in his sophomore season, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 840 yards and rushing for another 165 yards while contributing nine total touchdowns. The signal-caller would benefit from a reduction in turnovers however, as he sits with six interceptions -- second-most in the conference.
The Rebels have been running the football quite a bit here in the early going, eclipsing 1,100 yards in the first five games. Jeff Scott (50 carries, 317 yards, four TDs) and Randall Mackey (40 carries, 204 yards, three TDs) split duties as the team's feature back.
Donte Moncrief has shown great chemistry with Wallace, opening the season with a touchdown catch in four straight games. He leads the team with 21 grabs for 380 yards.
The defensive numbers for Ole Miss are solid (27.2 ppg, 359.6 ypg), and apart from a 66-point breakdown against Texas a few weeks back, the unit has performed very well.
Denzel Nkemdiche has been one of the best all-around defensive players in the SEC this season, recording 32 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery. He also stepped up on the biggest stage, earning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors for his effort against Alabama (11 tackles, one sack).
This is a crucial game for both teams, as much of their successes so far has come against inferior competition. Ole Miss appears to have turned the corner under new head coach Hugh Freeze, and it will be desperate for a conference win in front of a rowdy home crowd, but Manziel and the Aggies have been unstoppable lately and will likely provide too much firepower for the Rebels to contain.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Texas A&M 38, Ole Miss 30
10/03 10:37:30 ET
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