Texas A&M will roll into Oxford, Miss this Saturday to face the Ole Miss Rebels at 7:30 PM CT (ESPN), and the Aggies are expected by many to take care of business at Vaught–Hemingway Stadium.
Texas A&M sits at 4-1 (1-1 SEC record) and is coming off of a bye week after defeating Arkansas on September 28. The Arkansas game wasn’t necessarily the slaughter many people believed it would be, but in the end the Aggies were just too much for the Razorbacks. The lone loss A&M has on the season is to Alabama in what is arguably the game of the year so far for all of college football. While Johnny Manziel is still the talk of the college football landscape with his wonderful play, questionable behavior, and downright stupid decisions, the player that is making the most impact for the Aggies, in my opinion, is Mike Evans. He is having some kind of season having already caught nearly 700 yards worth of passes and five touchdowns. He’s just so tall that it makes hard for any secondary to stop him. At 6’5’’ and 225 pounds, he makes easy work of anyone that tries to shut him down, especially when Manziel just lobs a pass his way. All he has to do is jump a little bit higher than the guy covering him, which with his size is easy, and he has a catch. Sure, Manziel deserves plenty of credit, but with a weapon like Evans, Manziel is having an easy time building another Heisman caliber year. I don’t see Evans’ season slowing down much either. After the Ole Miss game, Evans will have four games against non-ranked opponents before finishing the season with #10 LSU and #25 Missouri. At the pace he’s going, Evans could easily get to 1,500 receiving yards and who knows, with a few big games could push 2,000. Evans, not Manziel, is the player Rebel fans should worry about. Shut down Evans, and in turn the Rebels could shut down the Aggies.
Ole Miss is coming off of a frustrating loss to Auburn. While many folks are happy with the Rebs being 3-2 at this point, most fans are ticked off they aren’t 4-1. Starting the season 3-0 was a shock, but the Rebels really needed to win at least one of the four games against Bama, Auburn, A&M, or LSU to make the season one for the ages. At this point, barring a major upset, it’s looking like the Rebels are going to go from 3-0 to 3-4 which is absolutely disheartening. For this week’s game, a lot of media are going to say that it’s imperative the Rebel defense shut down Manziel and Evans (which is true), but I’m going to tell you that the game rests on the Ole Miss offense right now. The offense just hasn’t clicked since the win in Austin, and nobody is really sure when or if it will get it back together. The read option isn’t seeing success like it did in the early weeks, Bo Wallace’s decision making has been spotty, and last week the highly touted Rebel receiving corps dropped entirely too many passes, many that would have given the team a first down. If Ole Miss could hold the high octane Texas A&M offense to 28 points then the defense has done its job. But if the offense can’t get it together and put some points on the board with consistency, then this game, and potentially the rest of the season will be tough for Ole Miss. They’ll get to their bowl game and still have a decent record, but after such a hot start, it would be a lie to say that Ole Miss fans would be pleased with seven wins this season.
Bottom line on this one: Texas A&M is better than they were last year. Ole Miss came so close to pulling out a victory against them then, but this year, I don’t think Ole Miss will be able to keep up. I had originally predicted this to be a Rebel win, but at the time I was confident Johnny Manziel would have been suspended for more than a half of a game.
Prediction: Texas A&M 41 – Ole Miss 21