South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Texas A&M Aggies
Saturday – October 31 – 11:00 am CT
Kyle Field – College Station, Texas
This matchup looked good on paper eight weeks ago before the season started. Now it’s barely a blip on the college football radar as both teams come into this one limping mightily. The Aggies got their asses handed to them in Oxford last weekend by Ole Miss. The Aggies were unable to even get the ball in the end zone despite going up against a very depleted Rebels defense that was missing some of their biggest playmakers. It was the second straight loss for A&M who had rolled to a 5-0 start and #9 ranking in the country. The Gamecocks saw the unexpected departure of legendary head coach Steve Spurrier a few weeks ago, and are now led in the interim by Shawn Elliott. South Carolina carries a 3-4 record coming off a bye week and a previous win over Vanderbilt 19-10 in Columbia.
What to look for when A&M has the ball
Simple answer: nobody knows except the coaches and players inside the locker room. Kyle Allen was a complete disaster against Mississippi in a game which saw the sophomore quarterback go 1 of 16 passing in a single stretch. Everybody and their dog watching was calling for Kyler Murray to be put in the game but instead he just sat there on the sideline and little known Blinn College transfer Jake Hubenak was thrust into action and ended up completing 6 of 11 of his passes. It was discovered by the media after the game that Murray had directed an f bomb towards offensive coordinator Jake Spavital in the Alabama game and was disciplined as a result. Head coach Kevin Sumlin repeatedly said in the postgame press conference that the decision to not play Kyler was all based on practice but nobody was buying that.
There have even been rumors of a Murray transfer and that is the last thing in the world the Aggies need. If A&M wants to salvage this season and keep in the good graces of the family of one of the most sought after recruits in school history then they need to swallow their pride and start the young freshman on Saturday. There is no denying the talent is there and it appears that Allen’s confidence is completely shattered. He may be injured but has proven he can’t hit the side of a barn recently the last two weeks. Another puzzling development has been the horrible offensive line play. Sumlin brought in veteran coach Dave Christensen to fix the holes in the unit and things have only seemed to regress. With Murray’s speed he may be able to offset some of these deficiencies if given the opportunity. We’ll find out the answer to who will be starting on Friday.
What to look for when South Carolina has the ball
The Gamecocks have shown a real inability to score points this season with their highest total being 31 points against Central Florida. The team finds themselves in sixth place in the SEC East and much of that can be attributed to the lack of continuity after the Head Ball Coach’s departure. They’ve had their own problems at quarterback with both Lorenzo Nunez and Perry Orth battling back and forth for minutes. A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis stated this week that he would have game plans for both as they won’t know who the starter is until game time. In an unexpected and strange twist of fate, it’s the Aggie defense that has been outplaying the offense and consistently bailing them out the last two weeks in spite of what the scoreboard against Alabama and Ole Miss reflects. As usual, expect Myles Garrett to do his thing creating chaos all over the field. Safety Armani Watts turned in perhaps the finest performance of his career against the Rebels amassing 14 tackles and creating a turnover as he was all over the field. If there is a positive for South Carolina it’s that one would have to believe the Ags could come out feeling very defeated after watching a promising season seemingly go down the drain. A&M also seems to struggle out of the gate in early morning kickoffs and the forecast calls for a 100% chance of rain which may keep some fans away and in turn produce a quieter than normal Kyle Field atmosphere.
Las Vegas has the Aggies as a 16.5 point favorite and an over/under of 57 points. That seems awfully high for two teams who have recently shown they don’t know how to cross the goal line. If A&M can quickly right the ship then they can still position themselves for a decent bowl game and a potential fifth straight bowl win. The Gamecocks on the other hand appear to be making the transition that Spurrier forced them into and can only hope to begin a solid recruiting process as they look to next year.
Prediction: Texas A&M 27 – South Carolina 13