Texas Bowl, Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State: Scouting the Cowboys
The Texas A&M Aggies beat the teams they were supposed to beat and didn’t beat the ones that were ranked. So their 7-5 record couldn’t have been too surprising. The unranked Aggies get one last chance to defeat a ranked opponent when they travel an hour east to take on No. 25 Oklahoma State (8-4) in the Dec. 27 Texas Bowl, which kicks off at 6:45 p.m. ET in Houston’s NRG Stadium.
It will be Texas A&M’s 11th consecutive bowl appearance and second in as many years under head coach Jimbo Fisher, who led the Aggies to a 52-13 romp of North Carolina State in the 2018 Gator Bowl, Texas A&M’s first bowl victory since 2014.
Here are five things you need to know about Texas A&M’s opponent, Oklahoma State.
How they got here
The Cowboys have battled injuries that resulted in an up-and-down season. After winning their first three games, they dropped three of their next four and looked to be an afterthought among Big 12 teams. But a four-game win streak revived their season, and the Cowboys finished in a four-team logjam for third place in the Big 12 standings.
They have two victories over ranked teams, defeating then-No. 24 Kansas State, 26-13, and then-No. 23 Iowa State, 34-27 on the road. Now they’ll look to wipe a 34-16 loss to Playoff-bound Oklahoma from their minds and focus on the Aggies.
Redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders was having a nice season, throwing for more than 2,000 yards in 10 games, before suffering a season-ending thumb injury. He also rushed for more than 600 yards before the injury.
So senior Dru Brown has been called upon to finish the season. He threw for 403 yards over the final two games, completing 44 of 61 passes with 2 TDs and an INT over that span. He’ll get nearly three weeks to prepare for the Aggies.
Only Oklahoma, among Big 12 teams, ran the ball better than the Cowboys this season. A talented offensive line opened holes for redshirt sophomore Chuba Hubbard, who led the nation with 1,936 yards. Hubbard led the Big 12 in many rushing categories, including yards, rushing TDs (21), rushing attempts (309, which ranked second nationally), attempts per game (25.75) and yards per game (161.33).
Hubbard’s body took a measurable amount of punishment over the course of 300-plus carries. The big question will be if Hubbard decides he has endured enough body blows and whether the draft-eligible talent will forego the bowl game.
The Cowboys were balanced offensively; at least, that’s what the final stats indicated. They rushed for more yards (2,835) than they passed for (2,732) by only 103 yards. They’ve taken advantage of the defenses they’ve faced, rushing for a season-high 373 yards against Kansas State, then turning around and throwing for 413 yards against McNeese State.
So while the final stats show a balanced attack, the Cowboys have taken full advantage of what each defense allows, whether it’s on the ground or through the air, with Hubbard churning out the yardage on the ground and Dillon Stoner the main target through the air. They’ll have ample time to put together an offensive scheme that takes advantage of the weaknesses in the Aggies defense.
The Cowboys weren’t too bad against the run, ranking fifth in the Big 12 with 151 rushing yards allowed per game. Linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga and defensive back Malcolm Rodriguez lead the team in tackles. And when the Aggies throw the football, they might want to stay away from safety Kolby Harvell-Peel, who already has 5 interceptions and 71 total tackles.
Harvell-Peel is from College Station (A&M Consolidated) and would love nothing more than to be a thorn in the side of Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond and the Aggies’ passing game.
Injuries have dampened the Cowboys’ attack, taking out Sanders and leading receiver Tylan Wallace, who caught 53 passes in eight games for 903 yards and 8 TDs before going down with a knee injury.
The Cowboys have battled injuries all season, and for the most part, they have overcome. But if Hubbard decides to pass up the bowl game, it would leave a huge hole in the offensive production. That’s something the Cowboys can’t afford.