Last week was a disappointment for Texas A&M football, full stop. The Aggies had a chance to seize control of the West and couldn’t quite make the plays required to get it done. Though it was evenly matched, the very close nature of the game served to infuriate many Texas A&M football fans. Ultimately, even though that game was a huge opportunity for the Aggies, it wasn’t a must-win. The same could not be said for this game, however: the direction of this season really hinges on what the Aggies can do in Knoxville. 5-2 and doubtless cracking the top 25 headed into the bye is way different than 4-3 and a two-game losing streak.
Texas A&M Football vs. Tennessee Odds, Spread and Total
The line, at least at the time of writing, seems to indicate that these are two very evenly-matched teams, and that the home field advantage is what is chiefly responsible for the spread. As I’ll be getting into later in the week, the specific matchups here present a really interesting picture for how this game might go.
Texas A&M Football vs. Tennessee How to Watch
Date: October 14, 2023
Game Time: 3:30 PM ET/2:30 PM CT
Venue: Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee
How to Watch: CBS or streaming
Texas A&M Record: 4-2
Tennessee Record: 4-1
Texas A&M Football vs. Tennessee Key Players to Watch
Here’s who to keep your eye on for each team:
Joe Milton: The man with the biggest arm in college football was a hot topic of discussion in the offseason, not only due to his pure throwing talent but also his status as the heir apparent to one of the most QB-friendly systems in the sport. Milton hasn’t quite lived up to the hype just yet, but he and the Heupel offense have the potential to really break out at any moment.
Squirrel White: Formerly part of a top tandem along with Bru McCoy, following the latter’s season-ending injury in the Vols’ previous game against South Carolina, White now bears alone the mantle of a #1 receiver. Tough to tackle and with the speed to get open downfield, the Aggie pass defense can answer a lot of questions if they contain him well enough in this matchup.
James Pearce, Jr.: The leading sack-getter for the Vols is only a sophomore. With five sacks in five games, he leads a defensive line for the Big Orange that is fifth best in the nation by sack-rate—though, it should be said, their rush defense doesn’t quite match the amount of pressure they get on passing plays.
Max Johnson: Max just plain has to show up if the Aggies have any chance of winning this one. I do think that the key to the game will be establishing a solid rushing attack, but one of the big reasons I think that is because it will help take the pressure off of Max and enable him to play within himself. If he does that, the Aggies have a good chance.
Le’Veon Moss: This is a game where Moss will have a big opportunity to break out. Many Texas A&M football fans feel, with good reason, as though Le’Veon has set himself apart from the other backs. He has shown flashes, but putting together a complete game in Neyland would go a long way for the Aggies’ chances.
Walter Nolen: This is a veritable homecoming for Nolen, who graduated from high school from nearby Powell, Tennessee. I’m sure big Walt will have plenty of motivation for this one, and stopping a prolific Volunteer run game as a force in the middle of the line will be something the Aggies will be relying on him for.
Texas A&M Football vs. Tennessee: Prediction and Pick
This is a tough one. I had this game picked as an Aggie win in the preseason, but part of that was predicated on how well the pass defense for Texas A&M football played last season and projecting that same success into this year. Given the Aggies’ penchant for giving up big plays, though, that is not an area where A&M has quite the advantage that I thought they might. That said, Milton is not quite as prolific as I thought he would be coming into the season, either. The passing game for the Volunteers has been less outstanding than their rushing game, which is not something I think many anticipated before the year began. The one team that did a good job limiting the Volunteers on the ground was Florida, and that ended up in a pretty decisive win for the Gators. Though Milton possesses a huge arm, his downfield accuracy doesn’t quite resemble that of Milroe or even KJ Jefferson, so there’s reason for optimism there as well. I’m choosing to continue to believe in this Aggie team—give me 31-27 Texas A&M.