Nick Fitzgerald ran for 182 yards and two touchdowns, Aeris Williams ran for a career-high 140 yards and Mississippi State used a dominant ground game to upset No. 4 Texas A&M 35-28 on Saturday.
It was a stunning win for Mississippi State (4-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference), which was coming off an uninspiring 56-41 win over lower-level Samford. The Bulldogs had lost their previous three games against FBS competition.
It was an equally stunning loss for Texas A&M. The Aggies (7-2, 4-2) were ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday, but will now almost certainly tumble out of contention.
“We got whipped,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “We couldn’t stop the run and we couldn’t run it. They dictated play today.”
Mississippi State finished with 365 yards rushing. The Bulldogs’ biggest drive was a grinding 14-play, 73-yard push in the fourth quarter that ended with Fitzgerald running for a 4-yard touchdown and a 35-21 lead. Mississippi State ran 10 straight running plays at one point in the drive.
“The offensive line played fantastic today,” Fitzgerald said. “I couldn’t have asked for anything more from them. Our running backs were running extremely hard, reading the blocks. We knew we could run the ball.”
Fitzgerald was 18 of 31 passing for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
“They’re young guys who are starting to get it,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said.
Texas A&M not only lost the game, but possibly its starting quarterback. Trevor Knight was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with an apparent right shoulder injury and didn’t return.
Knight wasn’t very effective when he was playing, completing just 5 of 14 passes for 43 yards. He also ran for 54 yards and a touchdown.
Mississippi State took a 28-7 lead late in the second quarter after Fitzgerald’s 7-yard touchdown pass to Fred Ross, but Texas A&M responded with Christian Kirk’s 93-yard punt return for a touchdown to pull within 28-14 by halftime.
Knight’s backup Jake Hubenak threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to Kirk early in the fourth quarter to pull Texas A&M within 28-21. Hubenak added a 4-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds with 1:33 left, but the Aggies couldn’t get enough momentum to overtake Mississippi State.
Hubenak completed 11 of 17 passes for 222 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the game’s final seconds.
Texas A&M will likely be punished in all three major polls following a loss to one of the SEC’s worst teams so far this season.
Texas A&M: The Aggies didn’t perform well under pressure after being the surprise No. 4 team in the first CFP rankings .
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs earn a rejuvenating win against the Aggies after a rough October that included losses to BYU, Auburn and Kentucky.
Texas A&M: The Aggies return home and will host Mississippi.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to face Alabama on Saturday.
MSST—Fitzgerald 74 run (Graves kick), 12:18
MSST—A.Williams 2 run (Graves kick), 4:36
TXAM—Knight 19 run (LaCamera kick), :03
MSST—Ross 60 pass from Fitzgerald (Graves kick), 10:53
MSST—Ross 7 pass from Fitzgerald (Graves kick), 3:54
TXAM—Kirk 93 punt return (LaCamera kick), :19
TXAM—Kirk 54 pass from Hubenak (LaCamera kick), 10:42
MSST—Fitzgerald 4 run (Graves kick), 3:08
TXAM—J.Reynolds 4 pass from Hubenak (LaCamera kick), 1:33
Time of Possession
RUSHING—Texas A&M, Knight 5-54, Ford 9-33, T.Williams 10-28, Hubenak 7-2, Kirk 1-0. Mississippi St., Fitzgerald 20-182, A.Williams 24-140, Dear 3-14, Mixon 3-14, Holloway 4-13, Shumpert 2-6, (Team) 2-(minus 4).
PASSING—Texas A&M, Knight 5-14-0-43, Hubenak 11-17-1-222. Mississippi St., Fitzgerald 18-31-2-209.
RECEIVING—Texas A&M, Kirk 7-144, J.Reynolds 5-85, Noil 3-36, T.Williams 1-0. Mississippi St., Ross 6-98, Mixon 5-54, D.Gray 2-32, Dear 2-10, Myles 2-7, A.Williams 1-8.
MISSED FIELD GOALS—Texas A&M, LaCamera 27. Mississippi St., Graves 32.