Texas A&M cruised to a 6-0 start (ok, there were some hiccups), defeating opponents by an average of over 20 points. Three of those victories came against at-the-time ranked teams in UCLA, Arkansas, and Tennessee. And Auburn, who A&M dispatched on the road, is currently ranked #18.
Following a 33-14 loss against number one Alabama, the Aggies rebounded with an expected blowout over New Mexico State. Now, following back-to-back heartbreaking defeats against Mississippi State and Ole Miss, the Aggies are looking like a bad flashback of 2014 and 2015 with head coach Kevin Sumlin toasting on the hot seat. The Aggies, though, can salvage the season with a win over UT-San Antonio (please, God) and #16 ranked LSU before heading to a respectable bowl game (not the Texas Bowl versus the Longhorns, please can you hear me out there?). A win in a bowl game and suddenly the Aggies are looking at a very respectable 10-3 finish. Who can be mad at ten wins? Probably Aggies, but we shouldn’t be.
So how can the Aggies defeat LSU with their current state of play? :drumroll: Well, they can’t. But hopefully they can play better... an impossible concept, I know. The stingy Tigers’ defense is not going to do any favors for Noel Mazzone’s now struggling offense, but the Aggies still have potential for explosive plays with some electric skill players. Buuuuut LSU is giving up a mere 13.9 points and 312 yards per game, including just 198 in the air. Despite the recency of offensive woes, the Aggies have moved the ball well this season, averaging 471 yards and 36 points per contest. On the flip side, the Tigers average a solid 27 points per game and will be up against a suddenly questionable A&M defense that allows 446 yards and 22 points per game.
The key to an Aggie victory will be stopping the run, as Derrius Guice has been tearing up opponents on the ground, averaging an astounding 8.7 yards per carry. Heisman hopeful Leonard Fournette has battled some injuries but averages nearly 7 yards per carry. The talented duo of backs have combined for 17 touchdowns so far. LSU quarterback Danny Etling has been managing the Tigers offense well, but won’t dominate opponents with huge passing numbers. The key for the Aggies will be stacking the box, winning in the trenches like they did earlier in the season, and stifling the run game. Piece of pie!
Another key to the contest will be how well the Aggies can run against a stout LSU rushing defense that has allowed only 114 yards per game this season (16th in the nation). These halfback dives squirting through the middle for one yard aren’t going to cut it against anyone, let alone LSU. Can the Aggies get creative and find some big plays from Trayveon Williams, who is still averaging 7 yards per pop on 126 attempts this season? Also, look for Jake Hubenak to target his big play receiver Josh Reynolds, who has found the end zone 8 times and is averaging nearly 20 yards per reception.
A&M has come up empty so far this year when playing for big postseason goals, so let’s hope they can buck LSU’s 5-game winning streak with a solid bowl game on the line. A loss to LSU and an 8-4 finish will be a disappointment for a team and fanbase that looked to have a real shot at the playoffs a couple of weeks ago. A win versus LSU will almost certainly save Sumlin’s job and create a little needed momentum heading into the offseason. OH, PLUS THAT WIN OVER UTSA. I AM NOT OVERLOOKING THEM, I SWEAR.