First Look at Upcoming Opponent for Texas A&M Football
It seems strange that there’s only one game left in the season for Texas A&M football. The season, as always, comes and goes far too quickly—yet it also seems like forever ago that the Aggies kicked off against New Mexico back in early September. So much has happened since that point!
For their final test of the season, the Aggies are facing off against the LSU Tigers. LSU has not had the season they imagined, styling themselves as division contenders in the preseason only to have those dreams all but dashed pretty early on. Their rematch with Alabama went poorly as well; the Tigers lost by two touchdowns in a game that wasn’t even that close. Heisman contender (frontrunner?) Jayden Daniels had to leave the game early after sustaining a big hit from Alabama’s Dallas Turner, but the book was all but written by that point.
The challenge the Tigers present to Texas A&M football is a formidable one. They boast the nation’s top scoring offense and the aforementioned Heisman contender Jayden Daniels at quarterback. This LSU passing game, while thought to be a big threat coming into the year, has even exceeded those expectations, trailing only Washington and Oregon in pass yards per game. By yards per attempt, however, the Tigers are second in the nation behind only Air Force, who attempts only 7.5 passes per game.
This presents a problem for an Aggie secondary that has been very hot and cold this year. Against teams who excel in passing the ball, the Aggies have had a lot of trouble—Alabama, Miami, and Ole Miss all averaged 9.7 YPA or better against Texas A&M football. The highest mark for any other opponent with a minimum of 20 attempts, however, was 5.3 YPA by South Carolina. If any team can light it up through the air, it’s LSU, so the Aggies will have quite the task ahead.
The good news, though, is that the Tigers have maybe the worst defense of any Power 5 team the Aggies have yet faced, especially when it comes to the ground game. Only two of the Power 5 opponents for the Tigers have gained less than 4 YPC—Arkansas (who averaged 3.7 against the Tigers, compared to a season-long average of 3.23) and Florida State (who averaged 3.97). Nearly every team has exceeded their averaged YPC against the Tigers as well. LSU averages 2 sacks per game (ahead of only Vandy, UF, and South Carolina in the SEC) and 5.1 TFLs per game (ahead of only UF and Carolina). This is truly a confusingly horrid defense that Texas A&M football will be playing this weekend.
The problem is that if we’ve learned one thing about the Aggies this year, their offensive performance more often than not has to do with their own execution rather than the defenses they’re facing. That’s how you put up 51 points on Mississippi State one week and then only 38 on Abilene Christian the very next week. That’s not to say the opposing defense doesn’t affect the outcome at all; rather, it is to say that there’s a non-zero chance that Texas A&M football faces a horrid defense and still manages to trip over their own feet for the whole game. It’s worth mentioning, too, that for however awful this defense is that the Aggies are facing, they will be highly motivated following what A&M did to them at the end of last season.
I’ve predicted Aggie wins for most of the season. I’m not afraid to recognize that I’m a glass-half-full guy. If I’m being honest though, it’s hard to predict a win for the Aggies in a place they have yet to notch one since joining the SEC when they’re facing the best offense they’ve yet seen—especially when Texas A&M football is starting a guy who, for however impressive he has been, is a third-string quarterback. If the Aggies can come out playing aggressively and jump out to an early lead, they’ll have a shot. If they find themselves playing catch-up or in a shootout, though, then I feel much less confident. LSU has been in their fair share of barn-burners this year, and the Aggies have only really been in two—both of which they lost. I’ll have to reluctantly pick the Tigers here—let’s say 34-31.