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. 7 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 were ranked No. 4 in the first College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday, but will now almost certainly tumble out of contention.
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 for a 35-21 lead. Mississippi State ran 10 straight running plays at one point in the drive.
Fitzgerald was 18 of 31 passing for 209 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) 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 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.