The good news in this game is that one of these teams will finally win a big game on the season. The bad news for one of these teams is that it'll be considered a bit of a fraud when it doesn't win this game. Texas A&M has definitely proved it belongs in the SEC, but in the two biggest games of the year, the Aggies have gagged early leads in losses to Florida and LSU.
Mississippi State rolled up wins on the lowlifes of non-SEC play and the lower half of the SEC, but in its biggest test to date last week, Alabama hammered the Bulldogs into submission. Now, Alabama has done it to every team it's faced, but MSU didn't even really compete in this game.
So, it sets up a game that'll determine who finishes third in the SEC West and what team makes that significant statement…a much needed significant statement, in all honesty. The key is going to be MSU's secondary against the Texas A&M passing game. The Bulldogs back four, in particular All-American CB Johnathan Banks, got torched last week and Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel is more than capable of lighting them up again.
I don't think Banks is 100% healthy so MSU may play more zone and keep the Ags from going deep on that secondary throughout the game. If Manziel takes what MSU gives to him, A&M will win. If he gets greedy testing that experienced unit, the Ags will get beat.
I think Manziel has learned what he can "take" from SEC defenses and what he has to give up and that'll be the key. The Aggie defense, a unit that has improved steadily through this year, will slow the MSU offense down as the Aggies get a massive win on the road, nearly locking up a nine win season.
Texas A&M - 29 vs. Mississippi State - 20
Of the remaining four games on the Kansas State schedule, this matchup with the Oklahoma State Cowboys is the toughest test of the bunch. TCU, Texas and Baylor won't make things easy, but Oklahoma State may have the formula to beat Kansas State.
First and foremost, the Cowboy defense has given up an average of just over 12 points a game in its last three games. Now, that was against Kansas, Iowa State and TCU, not exactly the types of offense that can give OSU nightmares. Collin Klein's bunch, though, a different story.
That said, I still think this Oklahoma State squad is a tough match. Defensively, it can match Kansas State physical for physical, but what it can't do is get caught watching Klein and let either of Kansas State's superb receivers Tyler Lockett or Chris Harper get behind the secondary on play action. OSU can hold its own against the run, but can it avoid getting burned deep down the field?
Offensively, OSU will pound the ball against Kansas State and see if they can stop RB Joe Randle 25 to 30 times on the night. It's the best balanced offensive unit that Kansas State has faced and the Cowboys could make a physical statement early and make it stick.
But, the difference, ultimately, is #7 for the Wildcats, Klein. This guy has just done everything right all season long and when Texas Tech frustrated his offense in the first half last week, Klein and offense responded in the second half with six touchdowns in the second half in a 55-24 whitewash. OSU will slow him down, but not enough. RB John Hubert and Angelo Pease will, again, provide a strong complement to Klein in a solid Kansas State win.
Kansas State - 37 vs. Oklahoma State - 28