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Photo by Brianna Paciorka, USA Today
Texas A&M Football

Texas A&M delivers strong closing argument with a 34-13 win in Knoxville

December 19, 2020

Across the street from Neyland Stadium, only a smattering of vessels from the famed Vol Navy cruised the Tennessee River.

But inside Neyland Stadium, a boat race took place.

No. 5 Texas A&M (8-1) gave an emphatic closing argument for their inclusion in the four-team College Football Playoff field with a dominant 34-13 blowout of Tennessee (3-7) on Saturday.

“We’re 8-and-1 in the SEC. We lost to the No. 1 team in the country (Alabama). I want to see someone else go 8-and-1 in this league. We deserve to be in it now. I believe that firmly.”
- A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher

In posting its seventh consecutive Southeastern Conference victory and sixth straight by a double-figure margin, A&M toyed with Tennessee.

The Aggies accumulated 497 yards of offense. They routinely converted on third down. They suffocated Tennessee’s running game. They consistently pressured Tennessee’s quarterbacks. They effectively played keep-away by controlling the football for nearly three-quarters of the game.

And in coach Jimbo Fisher’s mind, they proved they belong in the playoff field.

“We’re 8-and-1 in the SEC. We lost to the No. 1 team in the country (Alabama). I want to see someone else go 8-and-1 in this league,” Fisher said. “We deserve to be in it now. I believe that firmly. I’ve watched the games. I’ve seen everybody. We can play with anybody.

“Seven straight SEC wins. Some schools ain’t even playing seven games.”

Of course, Fisher was referring to Ohio State, which won the Big Ten championship with a lackluster 22-10 victory over Northwestern, who had previously lost to (2-5) Michigan State.

The Buckeyes have only played six games. The Big Ten changed its own rules to allow the Buckeyes to play for the conference championship.

Fisher said Ohio State should not be given preferential treatment from the playoff committee.

“The injuries, the bangs, the bruises, the practices … all that stuff matters,” Fisher said. “The political end of this thing — guys out there wanting to push their own schools to get up in there — is ridiculous. Put the best teams in it.”

ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit is one of those guys pushing their own school. His co-worker Joey Galloway is another. Both played at Ohio State.

Brianna Paciorka, USA Today
Texas A&M’s defense swarmed Tennessee quarterbacks all afternoon long.

Herbstreit has consistently dismissed A&M through its seven-game winning streak. He’s insisted the Aggies have not passed some arbitrary eye test.

Instead, he’s campaigned for Ohio State, which won a six-turnover eyesore.

Herbstreit seems to have used too much street herb.

Some might try to marginalize A&M's win by pointing out Volunteers leading rusher Eric Gray did not play.

But neither did A&M star senior cornerback Myles Jones, who was out with a bum ankle. The Volunteers looked to capitalize on his absence and consistently attacked fill-in Brian George, who was made his first A&M start.

A busted coverage resulted in one Tennessee touchdown. George was beaten deep for another.

Other than those plays, A&M’s defense was in complete control. Tennessee managed only 24 rushing yards. Vols’ quarterbacks Harrison Bailey and J.T. Shrout combined to complete just 12 passes. A&M posted three sacks. Marvelous DeMarvin Leal sacked Bailey and forced a fumble that linebacker Andre White recovered. That resulted in one of Seth Small’s two field goals.

While the defense was in complete control, quarterback Kellen Mond was just completing passes.

He completed all four passes he attempted on the Aggies’ first series. He capped that drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.

He completed six of seven on the next series, which Isaiah Spiller capped with a 3-yard touchdown run.

Brianna Paciorka, USA Today
Mond beat the Vols with his arm and with his legs.

He later completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Ainias Smith to provide a 24-13 halftime lead.

He had a 28-yard completion to tight end Jalen Wydermyer that set up a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Ultimately, Mond completed 26 of 32 passes for 281 yards — his third straight superb road game performance.

Mond was almost perfect. Almost. He underthrew a wide-open Spiller on a third-and-4. He also threw an end-zone interception on third-and-10 at the Tennessee 11-yard line.

Still, the miscues were rare. A&M converted 10 of 14 third downs. Seven times Mond passed for the first down. He scrambled for another.

Mond didn’t need to scramble often, though. Once again, the offensive line did not allow a sack. It also paved the way for 216 rushing yards.

“Working in unison in the run game has been such a big reason why we're able to gash teams in certain ways,” Mond said. “I think coach Fisher does a really good job of mixing up a bunch of the schemes that we do to keep the defense off-balance.

“I mean, the offensive line has been tremendous all year, and we're not done yet.”

But where will the Aggies’ season continue? It could be the Orange Bowl against an ACC opponent — probably North Carolina.

Fisher says it should be in the playoff. Some vague eye test by a biased viewer should not keep them out.

“You’re playing in the best league in ball with the best players,” he said. “You win eight games. That’s enough of an eye test.

“I don’t care what everyone else says. If you want to pick the best four teams, we’re one of them.”

Discussion from...

Texas A&M delivers strong closing argument with a 34-13 win in Knoxville

7,327 Views | 4 Replies | Last: 11 mo ago by Hudson1241
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Good article. Nice call-outs on Herb. However, you can't say he is a hate of Ags as he has been given the sips hell for years. He just continues to live in the 1980s and 1990s.

I have no doubts the Ags are the #4 or #3 team in nation at this specific point in time. Problem is, we are not the most beautiful or handsome candidate available. We remain average in our reflection of the past. Just something we must overcome with wins. And it is going to take a few more years most likely to get the media love. But until then.......middle finger to ESPN as a whole!!!!!!
SEC Champs
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Herbstreit seems to have used too much street herb.

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Spot on Olin.
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He also repeatedly picks the horns in preseason to make a playoff run...
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