Week 8 of the college football is upon us (wait what) and with it brings a huge road trip to College Station where the Bulldogs will face the Aggies, who also are sitting at 5-2 and are coming off a win over an Eastern opponent as well. Here to preview Saturday night’s game is Chuck from Good Bull Hunting, our SB Nation friends of the A&M variety. Head on over there to get caught up on the latest tidbits about MSU’s upcoming opponent. (Especially check out The Tailgate, it’s great reading every week but this one hits closer to home.)
1) In week one, the nation (or at least those that stayed up for it) watched Texas A&M lose a 34-point lead on the West Coast versus UCLA and the rumblings began around the college football landscape that Kevin Sumlin might be on the way out. After going 5-1 since that game, what is the general attitude around College Station about the current state of Aggie football as well as fans' feelings toward Sumlin?
Chuck: I don't recall the event in question. lol jk losing in gob-smacking fashion is kinda our #brand.
Not to take anything away from the devastating undermining operation that UCLA performed, but those rumblings really began back in May when our AD low key put Sumlin on blast for this streak of 8-5 finishes. Still the outrage was understandable and completely justified, and Sumlin's seat has been pretty toasty since. At Good Bull Hunting we have made the case that - despite the way our online fans can make it seem - this season is not in fact a complete loss yet, and maybe we need to wait and see what actually happens in this difficult but not impossible home stretch. I would describe the current overall fan climate as cautiously optimistic with a hair trigger. So... the usual.
2) Four games through the SEC slate, A&M is 3-1 with Alabama, Arkansas and their two East opponents already out of the way, setting the Aggies up to potentially make a surprise late-season run. Of the Aggies five remaining games, four are SEC West teams and the highest ranked opponent is Auburn, who is currently sitting at #19. With a seemingly favorable schedule ahead, how do you see the rest of the 2017 campaign playing out for A&M?
The only gimme on that stretch is New Mexico [he said as Bob Davie crashed an AMC Gremlin into his house], but the other four have honestly never felt so undecided. [puts on pandering hat] Of course we'll know a lot more once we see how our boys fare against a strong MSU squad led by Fitzy Football. As for Auburn, here are some fun facts: since A&M joined the SEC they have played Auburn 5 times, and in those 5 games the home team has never won and the top ten ranked team has never won. Barring a huge leap in the rankings next week for the Tigers, that stat does not lean in our favor this year. Ole Miss always seems to give us fits, and the last time A&M beat LSU Forrest Gump was still in theaters.
My heart says we gut out a 4-1 for the ages, dropping either Auburn or LSU. My head says 3-2 if we're lucky, 2-3 if we aren't. The difference between my head and my heart will decide Kevin Sumlin's fate.
3) MSU fans know Christain Kirk is going to more than likely be a problem for the Bulldog defense this Saturday. Who are some other guys that might have MSU fans angrily mumbling under their breath, on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball?
Senior RB Keith Ford has blossomed into a weapon aimed at the spirits of defensive linemen, muscling out a 4.5 yd/carry average with the occasional long scamper. Freshman WR Jhamon Ausbon is becoming one of Kellen Mond's favorite targets, especially when we need to move the sticks. On the defense, senior DB Armani Watts is the unquestioned leader on the field and very dangerous for opposing QBs. And my personal favorite, sophomore LB Tyrel Dodson is a tackling, sacking machine with a penchant for game-sealing interceptions (he's done that twice this season).
4) Both MSU and A&M are currently 5-2 at very critical points of their seasons. A win could propel either team into bowl invites to warm destinations and a loss could derail the loser into stumbling through the rest of their season, fighting to stay out of the Birmingham Bowl. Who is a win more important to this weekend: MSU or A&M?
I have to say A&M. All of those reasons you laid out are true for both teams, but the scales tip towards the Ags based on the heat of Sumlin's seat. I like Sumlin, I like our team, and I like the players we produce. I want us to win because I want him to stay. I feel like Dan Mullen just has a little more leash left to work with.
5) Prediction time: right now, Vegas has this game marked down as a pick 'em after they opened the line at Aggies -2. Pick 'em's are the definition of a dead-evenly matched game, so that's promising for this weekend's entertainment purposes. Since there's no points to cover, who you got and how do you see it playing out?
Last season the Bulldogs initiated what turned out to be the most precipitous drop from the rankings I think the Aggies have ever had in their history. I hope that pisses the team off, because it certainly still pisses me off. If (big if) Kevin Sumlin is able to use that to focus this team on revenge, I think we have it. This is the least impressive offense the Aggies have had since they joined the SEC, but it is also the angriest, most dangerous defense we've had. I hope your boys head home with a lot of grass stains. A&M 27 - State 25