Texas A&M was the most peculiar of the bunch that wound up in the Top 4 of the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings this past week. Surely, a loss to Mississippi State on Saturday will do them no favors and we can certainly now expect a slip for the Aggies after dropping one to the lowly Bulldogs 35-28 in Starkville.
The Aggies fell behind early after a blistering run by quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. From there, A&M would have to dig upwards, falling behind 28-7 in the second quarter. A&M would cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter after a Christian Kirk touchdown, but Fitzgerald answered again after plowing into the end zone, putting the lead up to 14 with 3 minutes to play. A late touchdown would prove to not be enough as the Aggies drop to 7-2 on the year with Mississippi State improving to 4-5 in turn.
3 things we learned:
1. Mississippi State can almost certainly ride with Fitzgerald the rest of the way: He’s just a sophomore, but Nick Fitzgerald is getting in a groove, and that was only compounded more with his performance against the Aggies. It’s been tough in the first year post-Dak, but Dan Mullen may in fact have his replacement on the roster.
2. Texas A&M’s run defense remains pretty problematic: Coming into the game, the Aggies’ run defense was one of the worst in the country by almost any measure. Their rank in Rushing S&P+ was 92, so to say that Mississippi State’s ease with running the football was surprising would be an incorrect statement. The Aggies will continue to be playing with this weakness going forward unless something dramatically shores up the rest of the way. The best they can hope for is it doesn’t completely crush them.
3. The Aggies’ playoff hopes are almost entirely dashed: This was a pretty horrible loss to take at this point int he season, or any point for that matter, for Texas A&M. They will almost surely drop out of the Top 4 and possibly the Top 10 as well, so to make it back into the playoff or even NY6 contention, they will need to regain focus fast and hoe for some help along the way.