In the battle of former Big 12 foes, Kansas State came out on top of Texas A&M, 33-28, in the Texas Bowl after a late fourth down stop snuffed a potential game-winning drive for the Aggies.
Josh Reynolds led Texas A&M with over 150 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Aggies could not overcome a pair of turnovers.
After A&M drove the length of the field and Keith Ford ran for a seven yard touchdown on the game’s opening series, it looked like A&M’s offense could roll through Kansas State. A&M’s next three series, however, took a different turn as they amounted to 12 plays, 16 yards and an interception along with a pair of punts.
And so it would go all night as Kevin Sumlin’s offense was either boom or bust. Four touchdown drives went for at least 75 yards, but a missed 52 yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and the aforementioned fourth down stop were the only other series that offered much of a threat.
For their part, Kansas State played efficiently and with few mistakes as would be expected from a Bill Snyder team. Quarterback Jesse Ertz finished 14/20 with 195 yards and added on 67 yards and a pair of rushing touchdowns. Ertz and the Kansas State offense did not turn the ball over and seemed in control of the game while they had the ball.
Texas A&M will face another offseason of consternation after losing their last four SEC games and their bowl game. The Kansas State game offered a small opportunity to flush the last month and a half of the regular season but tonight did little to quell what has to be an anxious offseason again. Trevor Knight, Josh Reynolds, Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett will be gone and several other underclassmen like Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil could test the NFL waters, so next year’s squad could enter the season with a bit of a new look.
How Kevin Sumlin and Co. respond to the loss of those faces of the program will have much to say about the future of Sumlin’s tenure in College Station. I would doubt that Sumlin’s position would be in jeopardy this season, but what would be acceptable next year to the Texas A&M administration given their recent significant investments in the program? Would a five-loss season next year with a bowl of a similar stature be enough to force change, or is the A&M administration content with what the program has been, a mid level SEC West program?
Those questions are some of those that now face A&M entering the offseason, along with who will step up to replace Knight. There are some reasons for optimism entering 2017: Trayveon Williams was a revelation as a freshman and will look to build on that next year, and the defense should return most major contributors outside of Garrett and Hall, but overall the sense is one of uncertainty.