If Kevin Sumlin's seat was hot entering the 2016 season, the Music City Bowl will not have done much to quell the pressure, as Texas A&M fell 27-21 to Louisville to give the SEC its first loss of the 2015-16 bowl season. Louisville held a lead throughout and, while Texas A&M rallied, the Aggies failed to convert a scoring opportunity with less than two minutes remaining.
The Aggies entered the Music City Bowl with question marks after losing a pair of (now) former starting quarterbacks in Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray, and the starting nod fell by default to junior college transfer Jake Hubenak. Hubenak had only garnered meaningful playing time against Ole Miss and Auburn in 2015 and, in those games, only went 11-of-23 passing for 78 yards.
The bowl game offered a solid performance by Hubenak, but not an offering which will solidify him as A&M's starting quarterback entering 2016. The junior ended up 28-of-48 passing with 307 yards, a pair of touchdowns, an interception and a fumble. While the passing yardage is solid, the pair of turnovers were damning, as they came on back-to-back series early in the second half with the Cardinals holding a six-point lead.
With Speedy Noil suspended for the bowl game, Josh Reynolds and Christian Kirk were Hubenak's favorite targets, with both catching at least 10 balls. Reynolds was more of a deep threat, as he garnered 177 yards on 11 receptions, while Kirk picked up 84 yards on 10 catches to go along with a touchdown catch. No other Aggie had more than three receptions, though Ricky Seals-Jones hauled in Hubenak's other touchdown pass.
After rushing for 106 yards in the season opener against Auburn and 185 yards at Kentucky in the regular season finale, Louisville freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson had arguably the best game of his young career. Jackson ended up surpassing 225 yards of both passing and rushing and had four total touchdowns. But in the second half, when Louisville looked to close the game out, Jackson struggled against John Chavis' defense and gave the ball back to A&M quickly on three consecutive drives -- which led to a missed field goal, a touchdown and A&M's final drive, which ended with the Aggies throwing into the end zone for an opportunity to win the game.
Former Georgia safety Josh Harvey-Clemons had a big evening for the Cardinals on defense with a hand in both A&M turnovers, as Harvey Clemons stripped Hubenak to force the fumble and picked off the A&M quarterback.