Location: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
Time: 7:00 PM on ESPN
All-Time Series: Texas A&M Leads 6-0
Line: Texas A&M -10
Texas A&M and South Carolina had never met on the gridiron before the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012, and now have only played six times. A&M has never lost to the Gamecocks, holding a perfect 6-0 series record heading into 2020.
Will Muschamp has struggled to get over the Texas A&M hump throughout his career in Columbia, although he has come close. The 2017 and 2018 affairs were both one score games that the Gamecocks had chances to win.
This year however, the Aggies come to town ranked in the Top 10 with an impressive 4-1 record so far.
Let’s take a look at how these teams match up this season.
When South Carolina Has The Ball
All in all, South Carolina fans should be pretty pleased with the way that the offense has improved this year.
At the midway point in the season, the Gamecock offense is averaging nearly 30 points per game, which is something that has only happened once since the Steve Spurrier era. Keep in mind that there was also no out of conference games to fluff up the overall numbers this season.
The Texas A&M defensive unit has been pretty average to this point in 2020. The group is allowing 29.4 points per game, which is only good for 7th in the SEC.
The secondary is the major concern, which has given up its fair share of big plays in the passing game. Allowing 271 passing yards per game, it ranks in the bottom five of the conference.
While the pass defense has been questionable at times, the Aggie’s run defense is among the best in the SEC. Only allowing 104 rush yards per game, it ranks second best in the conference and top 20 nationally. The stout run defense is also only letting up 3.4 yards per rush on the season, and it will be interesting to see how well it performs against the Gamecocks potent rushing attack led by Kevin Harris.
If Carolina can expose the Aggies run defense, it will allow them to control the tempo and time of possession. Also, it would obviously make thing easier for Collin Hill, against an already suspect Aggie pass defense.
A key player to watch on A&M is linebacker Buddy Johnson. He’s got versatility to make an impact as a run stopper, pass defender, and pass rusher. His 54 tackles on the season leads the team by a wide margin.
Johnson also has two forced fumbles, 2 passes deflected, and 2 sacks so far in 2020. Johnson is well on his way for conference, possibly even national honors following the season, and accounting for him should be a must on every play.
At the end of the day, Bobo and the offense should be focused on establishing a run game and controlling the time of possession as much as possible. If Carolina is unable to do those two things, it could be another long night for Gamecock fans.
SC OL vs A&M DL: Push
SC RB+TE vs A&M LB: Edge, Texas A&M
SC WR vs A&M DB: Push
When Texas A&M Has The Ball
Kellen Mond is once again the headline for the Aggie’s offense. He has been criticized for his inconsistencies throughout his career, but this season Mond has stepped up and looked better than ever.
The senior is completing 65% of his passes for 249 yards per game, also totaling 12 touchdowns and just 2 interceptions. His advancements as a passer have kept him from running the ball as much as he used to, but he is still a threat with his legs.
Will Muschamp has done a good not great job of limiting Mond in his three starts against the Gamecocks. Muschamp defenses have always been susceptible to giving up chunk plays to running quarterbacks, so it will be interesting to see if Mond will use his dual threat ability this Saturday.
As a whole, the A&M offense is top five in the SEC in both total offense and rushing offense. Running back Isaiah Spiller continues to solidify himself as a premier ballcarrier in the SEC. So far he has 512 yards and five touchdowns on a whopping six yards per carry.
This offense is one that is dynamic and can hurt defenses in many ways, so the task is large for Muschamp and co to put together a game-plan that will work throughout the game. The Carolina defense has already labeled linebacker Jahmar Brown out for Saturday, which is not good for the depth of that position.
I may sound like a broken record at this point, but I would love to see the Gamecocks load the box and play more aggressive defense this weekend. The Carolina secondary vs the A&M receivers might be the only clear advantage the Gamecocks have on this side of the ball, so it would be smart to let them do their thing.
That would also allow for Muschamp to focus on figuring out ways to stop Spiller and the run game.
In any case, this game will be a tough task for the South Carolina defense and it will serve as a good litmus test to track the progress of the defense, especially after a bye week.
A&M OL vs SC DL: Push
A&M RB+TE vs SC LB: Edge, Texas A&M
A&M WR vs SC DB: Edge, South Carolina
A&M QB vs SC QB: Edge, Texas A&M
A&M Coaching vs SC Coaching: Edge, Texas A&M
The Aggies are clearly the better team and have advantages on both sides of the ball. However, the difference in talent is not as large as some might believe, and with an extra week to prepare South Carolina could come out swinging and have a good game-plan.
The time of possession is going to be a huge indicator of who will win this game, as both teams have the TOP battle as a huge priority every week.
If Carolina can establish the run early and often, it will go a long way towards a possible upset. Likewise, containing Spiller on defense is just as important.
Keeping Kellen Mond in the pocket should also be a huge point of emphasis for the Gamecock defense.
I think an upset is possible if South Carolina catches a couple breaks, but at this point it is hard to bet against Texas A&M winning this game.
Prediction: Texas A&M 30, South Carolina 24