Game recaps, thoughts and what mattered in the Week 9 games of the SEC college football season?
Mississippi State 28, Texas A&M 13
What Happened: Up 14-13 in the fourth quarter, Mississippi State rolled on two long drives for scores – one took a little longer than the other. The first rolled up 75 yards in almost three minutes, ending with a Nick Fitzgerald touchdown run from one-yard out. The second was a lightning strike, with Fitzgerald tearing off a 76-yard scoring dash to put the game away.
Fitzgerald threw two touchdown passes, but Texas A&M stayed alive on a 34-yard Kellen Mond pass to Quartney Davis and two Seth Small field goals.
What Mattered: Time and against, the Texas A&M offense was stopped cold. There wasn’t any running game with just 61 yards on the ground, and the O failed to move the chains – especially in the second half – converting just 4-of-12 third down tries on the day and missed both fourth down attempts.
– Yeah, Nick Fitzgerald ran for 88 yards and two scores, but he was bottled up for most of the game before his big final touchdown dash. However, he was amazing – finally – for a passing game that struggled over the last few weeks. He completed 14-of-22 passes for 241 yards and two scores.
– Both teams cranked up the defensive pressure all game long. The difference was Fitzgerald hitting enough third down throws to get by, and and the MSU D forcing early field goals and stalling drives.
Thoughts: Just when it seemed like Mississippi State was going to be a truly one-dimensional team that didn’t have any semblance of a passing game, Mr. Fitzgerald ripped off a fantastic game to throw yet another wrench into the bowl pecking order. Against a rested and ready A&M team, he pulled this off when the rest of the running game couldn’t get going.
– The Texas A&M D did its job. This was a bit of a slugfest, and Fitzgerald was the one to come up with the breakthrough moments. And now, after a three-game winning streak, the Aggies have to go to Auburn before closing out with three straight home games. They’re fine, and they’ll go bowling, but this all but ends any and all distant SEC title hopes.
– All is okay for Mississippi State. It would’ve been ugly to lose a fourth game in five dates, but now, with Louisiana Tech ahead, there’s a chance to get the bowl eligibility part of the season out of the way before going to Alabama. There’s still Arkansas and Ole Miss to face to boost the record and the bowl seeding, but after beating Auburn a few weeks ago, this was huge for head coach Joe Moorhead.