After a seemingly endless bye week, the Texas A&M football team is set to face off against their cross-division rivals, the South Carolina Gamecocks, this Saturday at 11 AM CT. The Aggies are in dire need of a win, having suffered two narrow defeats in their last two outings. This has left fans pondering the state of the season, teetering on the edge.
South Carolina, on the other hand, has had its share of struggles. Despite their promising recruiting class and the return of Spencer Rattler, their season has taken a downturn. They were competitive in the first half against North Carolina and Georgia but ended up losing both games disappointingly. Adding to their woes, star receiver Juice Wells sustained a foot injury, sidelining him indefinitely. The Gamecocks did manage to secure victories at home against Mississippi State and Furman but stumbled against Missouri, Tennessee, and Florida, squandering a 10-point lead in the latter game.
In essence, both teams are in need of a turnaround. A loss for Texas A&M would leave them at .500 for the season, while South Carolina would mark their sixth defeat. The question is, who will come out on top? The Aggies are the favorites, but how do these teams stack up in terms of offense and defense?
South Carolina’s Offense vs. Texas A&M Defense
South Carolina has leaned heavily on Spencer Rattler and the passing game this season. Xavier Legette, a standout receiver, has been pivotal, although he may be sidelined due to an upper-body injury sustained against Missouri. Star receiver Wells is also unavailable, and Ahmarean Brown‘s status is uncertain. The Gamecocks might have to rely on transfers O’Mega Blake, TE Trey Knox, and freshman Nyck Harbor as their top targets.
Their running game and offensive line have faced considerable challenges. South Carolina’s offensive line allowed a staggering 9 sacks against North Carolina and has struggled to average over 5 yards per carry (YPC) in any game, including against Furman. Their season-long YPC average stands at a meager 2.95. Moreover, they allow approximately 4.29 sacks per game, providing an opportunity for the Aggie defensive front to exploit.
Texas A&M Offense vs. South Carolina Defense
The Gamecocks’ defense is a glaring weakness, particularly in the passing game. They have the highest success rate allowed in the conference, both in raw numbers and opponent-adjusted figures, surpassing even Vanderbilt. While their run defense limits YPC, they allow opponents to exceed their average rushing success rate by about 2%, keeping them consistently ahead of the chains on the ground. This presents a golden opportunity for Texas A&M’s rushing attack, featuring Le’Veon Moss, Amari Daniels, and Rueben Owens, to find its stride. Success here could make the Aggies a formidable offensive force.
The Gamecocks’ pass defense has been even more porous, allowing a 49% success rate when opponents throw the ball, well above the conference average of 40%. If the Aggies operate at an average level against South Carolina, they’ll be in a favorable position. The Aggie wide receivers have a significant physical advantage over the Gamecock corners, making it likely that they’ll have the upper hand.
This game holds immense importance for the Aggies, who are desperately seeking a win to gain momentum for the latter half of the season. The matchup favors Texas A&M football in various metrics, increasing their chances of victory.
For South Carolina to pull off a win, they would need to excel in special teams, capitalize on long passes, generate turnovers, and make red zone stops – the same strategy that other teams have employed to defeat the Aggies this year. However, the gap in talent and performance across individual units is likely to tilt the scales in Texas A&M’s favor.
A closer look at the Gamecocks’ schedule indicates that they could end up at 2-6, with matchups against Jacksonville State, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Clemson ahead. The offense could potentially shine in games against the latter two teams, which are stronger defensively but not offensive powerhouses. However, a loss in this game would put South Carolina on track for a disappointing 4-8 season in year 3 under Shane Beamer.
While a win for South Carolina is not out of the question, the odds are stacked in favor of the Aggies. Their dominant pass rush, combined with a potentially explosive offense, should secure them a victory. Expect another impressive performance from the Aggie front, with multiple sacks and tackles for loss. In conclusion, the Aggies look poised to claim a well-deserved win.