Texas A&M football: Can the Aggies continue their mastery with a must-win over South Carolina?
Texas A&M needs a win.
Really badly, the Aggies need to get back into the win column.
They haven’t tasted victory since late September at Jerry’s World. That seems like a very long time ago now. And, truthfully, it has been.
When Texas A&M steps on the field at Williams-Brice Stadium this Saturday night against South Carolina, it will have been 4 full weeks since its last ‘W.’
The Aggies, 3-3 overall and 1-2 in SEC play, take on a 4-2 and 1-2 South Carolina team sitting on the other side of the fence. The Gamecocks are on a 3-game win streak, the latest victory a most impressive 24-14 triumph on the road against Kentucky.
South Carolina is returning home, where it is 3-1 this season, albeit a somewhat deceiving record, having feasted on inferior opposition. All 3 home wins have come against nonconference “cupcakes” Georgia State, Charlotte and South Carolina State.
Still, a night game at Williams-Brice is always a challenge.
For the Aggies, playing any SEC opponent on the road lately has proven to be a hefty task. They haven’t come away with a conference victory on the road since last October at Missouri. So, while the Aggies might be desperate for a win, this doesn’t appear to be at first glance the most opportune situation for it.
But upon further review, maybe South Carolina offers the perfect slump buster for Texas A&M, after all. Especially when you consider that the Gamecocks have never beaten the Aggies — ever. Not at Williams-Brice, not at Kyle Field. Never. Texas A&M is 8-0 all-time against South Carolina.
The teams became permanent crossover foes in 2014 after joining the SEC a couple of years previous. They had never met before but have been constant opponents the past 8 seasons, with the Aggies coming out victorious each time.
And since 2018 the games haven’t even been close. The Aggies have won the past 3 meetings by an average of 33 points. That includes a 44-14 blowout last season at Kyle Field.
They are hoping that trend continues, but certainly head coach Jimbo Fisher would settle for any kind of victory as long as it snaps the 2-game skid his team is currently enduring.
Texas A&M hasn’t lost 3 games in a row in the same season since Kevin Sumlin’s 2014 team lost to No. 12 Mississippi State, No. 3 Ole Miss and No. 7 Alabama in succession. The Aggies finished 7-5 that year and added an 8th victory by beating West Virginia, 45-37, in the Liberty Bowl.
A loss to South Carolina on Saturday would not only match that dubious mark but bring into question bowl eligibility. With Ole Miss, Florida and LSU still left on the home schedule, along with a nonconference game with Massachusetts and a road trip to Auburn, just getting to 6 wins could be a challenge.
The Aggies have qualified for the postseason in each of the past 13 seasons, including last year when they opted out of the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest because of COVID-19 issues and injuries. The game on Saturday could prove pivotal in keeping that streak alive.
Of course, the big question surrounding the game on Saturday, at least in Aggieland, is who will start at quarterback. Is it time for Conner Weigman to take the reins? Seems like the perfect time to make the transition to the 5-star recruit, with additional time during the bye week to prepare.
Fisher has talked all season about youth, as 20 true freshmen have already seen action this season for the Aggies. Well, why not see what Weigman can do and let him grow up along with the rest of the young talent on the current roster?
This decision might just come out of necessity anyway with Max Johnson out with a hand injury and Haynes King banged up after an impressive showing against Alabama in the Aggies’ most recent game. Of course, King would have had 2 weeks to heal from any bumps and bruises incurred from the wrath of the Tide defense.
So, it will be interesting to see if Fisher stays with King, who by far is most familiar with Fisher’s system despite only a handful of starts, or if Weigman is given an opportunity to show what he can do.