Texas A&M football: 3 reasons the Ole Miss game is a must-win
You look at the schedule and find games with Clemson, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and suddenly relevant South Carolina, it’s easy to overlook a game like the one Saturday at Ole Miss.
In comparison, the game Saturday in Oxford could be easily dismissed, dare I say, a cupcake in a schedule that has already included 2 games against teams that were ranked No. 1 in the country at the time of kickoff. The game on Saturday looks relatively unimportant in that regard, an afterthought in an otherwise monstrous schedule.
But nothing could be farther from the truth.
Fact is, the game Saturday at Ole Miss is huge. Don’t think so? Imagine the state of Aggieland if Texas A&M loses and drops to 3-4 for the season?
Yeah, it’s big. It’s a must-win. Here are 3 reasons.
1. For the direction of the program
No, the program won’t shut down if the Aggies lose. Not literally anyway. Figuratively, one could make an argument for it because a loss Saturday would serve as an indication that things aren’t moving forward as hoped in Year 2 under Jimbo Fisher.
Nobody really expected the Aggies to beat No. 1 Clemson in early September. Nobody expected the Aggies to beat No. 1 Alabama last Saturday. The program simply isn’t there yet to compete with the nation’s best. So those games couldn’t really serve as a gauge for how the program is progressing.
The Ole Miss game, on the other hand, serves as a clear gauge as to where the program is to date. The Rebels are 3-4 and desperate to keep their heads above water. A loss to that team, and the Aggies step into their shoes. That’s a place nobody could have expected for a Fisher-coached program even if it is only his second year.
2. Bowl implications
A loss would mean that the Aggies would have to win 3 of their remaining 5 games just to avoid a losing season and become bowl eligible. Games against Georgia and LSU at the end of the season don’t appear to be likely ones that would add to the win column, at least on paper if the Aggies can’t beat Ole Miss.
A date with South Carolina in mid-November suddenly looks to be far more competitive than before the Gamecocks’ surprising upset over Georgia last Saturday. So a victory on Saturday appears to be crucial if the Aggies have plans on extending the season for one more game.
Fisher is probably 1, maybe 2 top recruiting classes from legitimately competing against the likes of Alabama and Clemson. Losing on Saturday and falling to 3-4 on the season — basically into irrelevancy — isn’t going to lure any top football player to that program.
Fisher has already begun to lay the groundwork for what Aggieland hopes will be a championship program. He recently pulled in the best recruiting class Texas A&M has had this century, ranking No. 4 in the country, according to 247sports.com. That’s a darn good start, and it’s imperative that he keeps trending upward from there.
So while a game on Saturday at Ole Miss, after marquee matchups with the nation’s top teams, might appear inconsequential on the surface, for the future of the program it is huge.
Don’t lose it, Aggies.