After coming off of losses in their respective Week 7 matchups, ranked SEC West rivals Texas A&M and Ole Miss are in must-win situations.
Texas A&M suffered its first loss of the season to Alabama at home, 41-23. While their season is far from over, the Aggies will need to take care of business on the road in Oxford, Miss., to not only contend for the SEC West title but also avenge last season’s 35-20 loss to Ole Miss at Kyle Field.
Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s contest:
No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at No. 24 Ole Miss Rebels (5-2, 2-1 SEC)
Kickoff: Sat. Oct. 24, 7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Weather: 67 degrees, cloudy, five percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Ole Miss -5.5
By the numbers
30 – career passing touchdowns thrown by Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen. Allen reached that mark in only 15 games, which ties former Aggies star Johnny Manziel’s record for fastest player to reach that mark in school history.
25.1 – Average punt return yards on 11 returns for Aggies wide receiver Christian Kirk, which is best in the nation among qualified players. Kirk also shares the FBS lead with two punt return touchdown.
72.5 – The difference in total yards allowed per game by Texas A&M between this season and last season. The Aggies have allowed an average of 378.3 yards of total defense to start the 2015 season, while last year’s team allowed 450.8 yards per game.
Storylines to watch
The most intriguing matchup in this game will take place in the trenches, as Ole Miss left tackle Laremy Tunsil will line up against Texas A&M sackmaster Myles Garrett. Tunsil, who is expected to make his season debut on Saturday after serving a seven-game suspension, will need to be in midseason form against Garrett, who leads the SEC with 8.5 sacks.
The Chavis Effect
Texas A&M has made some impressive strides in improving its defense in 2015 after the Aggies brought in defensive coordinator John Chavis from LSU in the offseason. But Chavis’s wits and his ability to motivate his players will be put to the test against Ole Miss, as the Rebels boast a very talented duo on offense with quarterback Chad Kelly and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. Chavis will need to find ways to slow down Ole Miss’s passing game on the road, as both Kelly and Treadwell are coming off of school record-setting performances from last week’s game against Memphis.
Texas A&M seems to enjoy traveling on the road for games, as the Aggies have compiled a 17-4 record in games away from Kyle Field so far during the Kevin Sumlin era. The Aggies are also 11-4 under Sumlin in non-neutral road games.
Prediction: Texas A&M 34, Ole Miss 27
Expect a lot of passing between the two talented gunslingers Kyle Allen and Chad Kelly. Allen has plenty of playmaking targets to throw to like wide receivers Josh Reynolds, Ricky Seals-Jones and Kirk, while Ole Miss’s Kelly will look to repeat last week’s record setting performance with the ultra-athletic Treadwell.
Turnovers will make all the difference in this SEC shootout. One of the biggest questions entering this game is whether or not Kyle Allen can bounce back mentally after coming off of a disastrous performance, throwing three pick-sixes to Alabama defensive backs. If Allen regains the form he had in the first five games of the season, Texas A&M will leave Vaught-Hemingway Stadium victorious.