Fearless prediction: Will Texas A&M regain lost momentum vs. LSU?
We’re finally back.
After postponing games the past 2 weeks because of positive COVID-19 results, Texas A&M will take the field again at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday against LSU.
The Aggies are trying to prove to the selection committee they belong in the College Football Playoff after coming in at No. 5 in Tuesday’s first ranking. LSU, on the other hand, is trying to salvage their season. The defending champion Tigers have struggled to move on from Joe Burrow, but injuries and positive tests have made it difficult.
A&M opened as 14.5-point favorites. What can we expect out of this game?
LSU is starting a true freshman at quarterback in TJ Finley.
Finley has shown potential in the 3 games since Myles Brennan went down with an abdominal injury. He has thrown for 250-plus yards and 2 touchdowns twice, but it was rough going against Auburn, when he threw 2 picks. The Aggies defense is the best he has faced, and it might be able to capitalize on his inexperience.
The Tigers ground game should have an equally tough time getting going.
A&M has one of the best run defenses in the SEC, giving up only 95.7 yards per game on the ground. LSU runs a 2-man backfield of Tyrion Davis-Price and John Emery Jr. The more dangerous of the 2 is Davis-Price, already with a pair of 100-yard games this season.
The last time the Tigers faced a defense in the top half of the conference, they put up 11 points. Expect the Aggies’ SEC-leading defense to have no trouble containing this attack.
A&M should have the edge on the other side of the ball as well.
Kellen Mond is having the best season of his career and is already the Aggies’ all-time leader in total offense and touchdown passes. His numbers are even more impressive considering he entered the year without any of his top 3 targets from 2019. During A&M’s 4-game winning streak, he has thrown 12 touchdowns to 1 interception.
But the Aggies offense attacks with balance, and the running game is just as potent.
Isaiah Spiller ranks 4th in the SEC with 643 yards despite being 1 of 2 players in the top 10 who have played only 6 games. The Aggies don’t usually stray from Spiller. The sophomore is averaging 21 carries over the past 4 contests.
When A&M does decide to get different, they go to Ainias Smith. The speedy running back is one of the most versatile players in college football. He also lines up at receiver and returns punts for the Aggies, and he has 499 yards from scrimmage this year. LSU should keep an eye on him to avoid giving up a big play.
The Tigers appear to be one of the least-equipped teams in the SEC to stop such an offense.
They rank ahead of only Ole Miss in total defense and have surrendered 40-plus points 3 times this season. This game has the potential to be another of those times. K.J. Costello, Connor Bazelak and Bo Nix have all thrown for at least 300 yards against LSU this season, and Mond is arguably a better quarterback than all of them.
To summarize, LSU looks outmatched pretty much everywhere. The Tigers certainly have potential to improve as they gain experience for next season. These games will be valuable for Finley’s development as he figures to serve as the starter for the foreseeable future.
That said, it probably won’t translate to a victory here.
These teams have swapped roles from last season, when LSU was the Playoff contender that handed A&M a 50-7 loss. Look for another lopsided game this year, just with a different winner.
FEARLESS PREDICTION: Texas A&M 52, LSU 17