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No. 11 Mississippi hosts Texas A&M in SEC West battle of stingy defenses

Texas A&M (5-3, 3-2 SEC) at No. 11 Mississippi (7-1, 4-1, No. 10 CFP), Saturday, 12 p.m. ET (ESPN).

Line: Mississippi by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

Series record: Texas A&M leads 9-5.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Ole Miss can't afford to lose another SEC game if the Rebels are going to keep their SEC West hopes alive. The Rebels will keep a close eye on Tuscaloosa, Alabama as well, where No. 8 Alabama and No. 13 LSU face off. Ole Miss has beaten LSU and lost to Alabama. The Aggies can become bowl eligible with their next victory. They only won five games last season, so that's a meaningful first step. Texas A&M is trying to stop an eight-game road losing streak.

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KEY MATCHUP

Both defenses are prolific in delivering big plays, so this game could well come down to which one best keeps that trend up. The Rebels have held three straight SEC opponents below 300 yards in the same season for the first time since 1993. They're leading the FBS in tackles for loss yardage (317) and rank fourth in sacks (3.75 per game). The Aggies have the SEC's stingiest defense and lead the Power Five with 75 tackles for loss and 33 sacks.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Texas A&M: LB Edgerrin Cooper has been one of the league's most disruptive defenders, especially in SEC games. Cooper has 11.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in the first five games against SEC offenses. He's second nationally with 15.5 tackles behind the line, among his 52 stops.

Mississippi: The offensive line. The Rebels have offensive playmakers with QB Jaxson Dart, RB Quinshon Judkins and three 500-yard receivers. But it's up to the blockers to help give them time to make plays against a defense that leads the nation in sacks.

FACTS & FIGURES

Ole Miss is off to a 7-1 start in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 1961-62. ... The Aggies haven’t allowed an opponent to get 100-plus yards both rushing and passing in a game this season. They've allowed only two rushing touchdowns. ... The Rebels are 19-2 in their last 21 games at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium after losing their first three under coach Lane Kiffin. Texas A&M is 4-2 at Vaught-Hemingway. ... Dart needs just 60 yards rushing to join John Fourcade (1978-81) and Matt Corral (2018-21) as the only Ole Miss quarterbacks with 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 on the ground. ... The Ole Miss defense has delivered multiple interceptions in three straight games for the first time since 2014.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football