Texas A&M Football: Breaking down ESPN’s SP+ rating for the Aggies

Seth Small, Texas A&M football (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Seth Small, Texas A&M football (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Texas A&M football
Demond Demas, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

1. Texas A&M football was better than their record shows last season

Like…way better.  I think a lot of what contributed to the frustration last year was that many of us felt like A&M was losing games they shouldn’t have.  The numbers here back up that intuition: they finished higher in the final rankings than any of the teams they lost to (Ole Miss finished 17th with a 14.8 rating, Arkansas 22nd with a 13.8 rating, Mississippi State 34th with a 10.5 rating, and LSU 65th with a 4.1 rating).

The Ags were the highest rated team with 8 or fewer wins; the next highest was Tennessee (who had seven wins), ranked 10th with a 17.5 rating.  They also were the highest-rated team with eight or fewer wins in a 12-game regular season since 2018 Auburn, who finished 7th but had a rating of 23.6.

Some other notable teams A&M finished in front of last year: #8 Clemson (18.7), #11 Notre Dame (17.4), #12 Ok. State (17.2), #13 Oklahoma (16.8), #15 Baylor (15.6), #32 Miami (10.8), and #48 Texas (8.5).

This is simultaneously validating and frustrating, I think.  We could all see the skill that was on the field when each position group executed, but there were very few games when the Aggies looked “all systems go” – the South Carolina game comes to mind.  I think it was obvious to the careful observer that A&M had elite pieces – but it’s tough to piece everything together when there’s such wild variance in quality of QB play.

Often, of course, the play at that position was subpar: according to Parker (@statsowar on Twitter), Calzada finished 115th out of 130 FBS starting QBs in total Expected Points Added (EPA for short).  This folds in well to the next point.