Texas A&M football: What’s at stake for the Aggies in finale
It’s been one of Texas A&M’s most disappointing seasons in memory. Not a pedestrian 8-4 record disappointing. Rather, the-wheels-have-fallen-off disappointing. Arguably, the-worst-team-in-the-SEC disappointing.
In a year that started with Jimbo Fisher’s squad ranked No. 6 in the country, one for which ESPN’s Desmond Howard predicted a national championship, the unthinkable has resulted. The 4-7 Aggies have sunk to the bottom of the SEC.
There is one game left. One game before the nightmare that is the 2022 season comes to a merciful conclusion. There will be no playoffs, no bowl games, no postseason whatever. For the first time in 14 seasons, the Aggies are not qualified for any bowl game – not the Birmingham Bowl, not the Gasparilla Bowl. Nothing.
One game left to play before an offseason affords the Aggies the time to reevaluate the program and the direction in which it is headed. One more game to exhibit any sort of life left in this program, from coaching all the way down to the youthful roster.
On Saturday, Texas A&M welcomes in LSU to Kyle Field. It’s a visiting team that is headed to the SEC Championship game. One still in the hunt for the national championship. That’s the position in which Texas A&M was supposed to be at this point in the season.
With nothing additional to play for after Saturday, this becomes the Aggies’ de facto bowl game. And as heated as this rivalry has been through the years, it might even be considered their Super Bowl.
It is Texas A&M’s final chance to prove that there is life in the program. It’s one final game that allows underachieving young players to show what the future might bring. It’s a huge opportunity for Fisher to end the season on some sort of positive note.
But a victory on Saturday would prove much more valuable than simply a positive note. It would signal potential. Potential for the future for this young team. A team that has certainly taken its lumps throughout 11 games.
Yes, a victory on Saturday, as bleak as that prospect appears, would be monumental. It would be something players can coaches can point to during the long offseason. It would give the Aggies something to look forward to as Fisher (presumably) goes back to the drawing board for 2023.
This game certainly won’t draw major national interest, or perhaps not even regional interest, but for Texas A&M this game is big. Or, at least it should be. It could be expected that the Aggies came out flat against 1-10 UMass. The cold and rainy weather didn’t help, either. And without playmakers Devon Achane and Evan Stewart, a woeful offense was made even more ineffective.
But emotions won’t be a problem Saturday, at least they shouldn’t be. If they are, well, there’s a much deeper problem with the program. And that’s also been hinted at, from no sleeves to suspensions of freshmen.
Yes, if the Aggies aren’t sky-high for their game on Saturday against LSU at Kyle Field, well that’s a problem Fisher may not be able to fix, no matter how much experience he gives to the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class of 2022.
So, while at first glance it would appear on a national level that this game is almost meaningless, it has huge significance on many levels for Texas A&M. A victory would go a long way in easing the pain of a lost season, much the same way beating Alabama did for last year. Plus, the Aggies owe the Tigers for a 27-24 upset loss last year in Baton Rouge. It would certainly give Aggieland at least a glimmer of hope for next season.