Missouri defensive end Shane Ray leads the SEC, is fourth in the nation and has set the school's single season record with 12 sacks.
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Normally road games in the Southeastern Conference are a grueling task that no one looks forward to.
That’s not the case for Missouri and its upcoming trip to Texas A&M.
The Tigers have won two of their last three games in College Station with squads filled with players from Texas who rarely get to play in their home state since the move from the Big 12 to the SEC.
"They’re not going to be intimidated coming in here," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "They’ve won four of the last five games we’ve played … they’ve got a lot of kids from the state of Texas and the other day (coach Gary) Pinkel’s words were that his guys enjoy playing here. So we’ve got a lot cut out for us this week."
Missouri boasts 22 players from the Lone Star State on a team that has won three straight and needs a victory to stay atop the SEC East.
"I think our players really like the environment there," Pinkel said. "It’s a great environment to play college football. One of the great things about playing in this league is that there’s a lot of great venues. This is another one."
The Tigers were off last week and the Aggies are looking to build on a thrilling upset of then-No. 3 Auburn that snapped a three-game SEC skid.
"This team’s been through all kinds of different things from the outside about opinions about us, guys quitting … so we’ve got to deal with this week," Sumlin said. "This is a good football team we’re playing and our team understands that. What’s important is the talk in this building, and the talk in this building gave us a chance last week. It’ll have to give us a chance the rest of the year."
Freshman Kyle Allen looks to improve to 3-0 since taking over for Kenny Hill, who started the first eight games for the Aggies. Pinkel said A&M’s offense is difficult to deal with regardless of who’s taking the snaps.
"They have a lot of different things that they do," he said. "It’s a very good system no matter who the quarterback is that runs their plays."
Some things to know about the Missouri-Texas A&M game:
DEDICATED DESHAZOR: Texas A&M senior cornerback Deshazor Everett played on Saturday against Auburn despite rupturing a tendon in his right elbow a week before. Wearing a big, thick brace, Everett had five tackles and returned a blocked field goal 65 yards for the fourth touchdown of his career. He leads the team with 59 tackles and is just two tackles shy of reaching 200 in his career.
"It was a great example for the younger players to see," defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. "There’s a difference between pain and injury. Deshazor knows we need him."
RAY’S RECORD: Missouri defensive end Shane Ray leads the SEC, is fourth in the nation and has set the school’s single season record with 12 sacks. The junior also has 16 tackles for losses this season.
"He’s one of the great competitors I’ve ever been around," Pinkel said. "I’d put him in my top five since I’ve been coaching. He’s got great ability. He’s matured and has become a lot better football player with his work ethic."
MY OH MYLES: Texas A&M freshman Myles Garrett is second in the SEC with 11 sacks this season to set a league record for sacks by a freshman that was previously held by Jadeveon Clowney (eight). Garrett leads the defensive line with 47 tackles and had a blocked a field goal last week at Auburn. Despite his impressive season, he still has a long way to go to break A&M’s single-season sack record. Jacob Green holds the record with 20 in 1979 and Von Miller is second with 17 in 2009.
TEXAS TIGERS: Pinkel has a knack for recruiting in Texas and has found players in a variety of parts of the state. The Dallas area leads this year’s group with 10 players and Houston and its suburbs are second with five. But he’s also found talent in less likely parts of the state, signing offensive lineman Taylor Chappell from tiny Canadian, a town in the Texas panhandle near Oklahoma.
O-LINE SHAKEUP: Texas A&M’s line has been shuffled because of an injury to right tackle Germain Ifedi. That injury caused projected first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi to move from left to right tackle and guard Jarvis Harrison to play left tackle last week. The reconfigured group allowed just one sack against Auburn and is expected to feature the same lineup on Saturday.