When the Bulldogs and Aggies take the field Saturday, it will mark the eighth time that Mississippi State and Texas A&M will have met in a matchup dating back to pre-World War I days. In that time, there have been nail biters, blowouts, and high octane offenses with a few rock fights added to the mix.
Of all of the Mississippi State-Texas A&M matchups, the 2000 Independence Bowl easily ranks as the best contest and the most memorable game between the two squads. Shreveport, Louisiana, does not usually see snowstorms, but on New Years' Eve 2000, such a storm moved through the region dropping several inches of snow.
At first, it looked like the Aggies would dominate the game jumping out to a 14-0 lead after one quarter when Richard Whitaker ran for a touchdown and Ja'Mar Toombs picked up a touchdown on the ground while the Bulldogs looked to be struggling in adapting to the snow.
However in the second quarter, the Bulldogs picked things up a bit with Dontae Walker, who finished with 143 yards on 16 carries, picking up the first Mississippi State touchdown on a 40-yard run. Wayne Madkin added a touchdown pass to Dicenzo Miller to tie the game, but the Aggies took the lead back on a 42-yard touchdown pass by Mark Farris to take a 20-14 lead into the half.
Walker picked up the only score of the third quarter, giving Mississippi State a 21-20 lead. The fourth quarter turned into an offensive explosion with the Aggies scoring 15 straight points to take a 35-21 lead, but the Bulldogs rallied, scoring on a long Walker touchdown and tying the game on a pass from Madkin to Donald Lee with 90 seconds to play to force overtime.
In overtime, the Aggies picked up a touchdown from Toombs, but Willie Blade blocked the extra point attempt, and Julius Griffith ended up scoring the defensive conversion on the play. Just a few plays later, Madkin scored the game winner.
In terms of excitement, only the 2013 matchup between the two schools, a 51-41 Aggie win, came close to matching the same level of the Independence Bowl. In last year's contest, Dak Prescott picked up over 300 yards of total offense after entering the game in the third series, and the Bulldogs picked off Johnny Manziel three times, with Jamerson Love collecting two of them.
Other than those two games, the matchups have not been pretty. There were three straight shutouts in the series with Mississippi State picking up 6-0 and 7-0 wins in 1913 and 1915, and Texas A&M snagging a 14-0 win in 1937. The initial contest between the two was a blowout, a 41-7 win for Texas A&M in 1912, and their sixth-ever matchup 100 years later proved to be much the same with the Aggies winning 38-13 in Starkville.
The teams will be playing for only the second time in Starkville, where the Aggies hold a 1-0 lead. The teams have played twice in College Station (1913 and 2013), and they split those two matchups. The rest of the matchups have been neutral site games played in Houston (1912), Dallas (1915), Tyler, Texas, (1937) and Shreveport (2000). In those neutral site games, the teams have split the four matchups.
However, none of the matchups stand up in importance quite like the one set for Saturday. Both teams enter the contest ranked in the top-15 with Heisman contending quarterbacks and hopes of an SEC West Title. One of the teams will move on with those hopes holding stronger than ever while the other will be forced to scramble to pick up the pieces and try to rebuild for the rest of the season.