Texas A&M Football: Final Game-by-Game Schedule Predictions
The Texas A&M football team will face one of the toughest schedules in the nation in 2014. The Aggies have enough talent on their roster to finish the regular season with a 9-3 record.
The Aggies will play nine 2013 bowl teams this season. In addition to the typical gauntlet that makes up the West division of the SEC, the Aggies will face South Carolina and Missouri from the East. The Gamecocks and Tigers won 23 games combined in 2013.
Texas A&M will also face Rice in its nonconference schedule. Rice won 10 games in 2013. The Aggies will need to have another strong offense and great improvement from their defense if they want to win nine or more games against their 2014 schedule.
This is a final game-by-game look at how their season should go in 2014.
The Aggies will open the season on Thursday, August 28, on the road at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off an 11-2 season and enter the year ranked No. 9 in the Amway Coaches Poll.
South Carolina will present a tremendous test for the Aggies. The Texas A&M defense is a huge question mark entering the season after it allowed 475.8 yards per game in 2013.
The Aggies defensive line will be improved, bolstered by more depth and talent than they had in 2013. The question is whether Aggie fans will see improved play from the linebackers and in the secondary.
South Carolina will likely not test the Aggies secondary. The Gamecocks will be content to grind it out on offense with the running game. Junior running back Mike Davis rushed for 1,183 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2013. Do not be surprised if he carries the ball 35 times against A&M.
The Aggies will be better on defense, but South Carolina will find a way to win a tight one in Columbia.
Predicted Result: South Carolina 27, Texas A&M 26
After starting the season 0-1, the Lamar contest will be a get-right game for Texas A&M. The Cardinals have a very good offense led by senior quarterback Caleb Berry, who passed for 3,332 yards and 32 touchdowns in 2013.
The Cardinal passing offense will test the Aggies secondary. Expect the Aggie defense to shut down the Cardinal running game, but Lamar will have some success passing the ball.
The Aggies will score early and often on offense. The fans will get their first look at true freshman quarterback Kyle Allen in the second half as starter Kenny Hill takes a rest.
Freshman wide receiver Speedy Noil will score a special teams touchdown, and the Aggie running backs will rule the day. The offense will roll up over 600 yards in a blowout victory.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 51, Lamar 24
Rice returns 12 starters from their 10-4 Conference USA championship team in 2013. The Aggies had trouble covering Owls senior receiver Jordan Taylor when the two teams last met to open the 2013 season.
Taylor caught seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. The loss of quarterback Taylor McHargue to graduation will limit the wideout's effectiveness in 2014.
This is a game where the Aggies offense and defense should come together in a dominating performance. Rice does not have the athletes to keep up with A&M for four quarters. This should be one of the more complete games the Aggies play all year.
The Aggies will roll up over 500 yards of offense in this game—one in which junior running back Trey Williams will really make his presence felt.
Predicted Results: Texas A&M 56, Rice 17
The SMU Mustangs return 12 starters from a 5-7 team that missed a bowl game in 2013. They lost record-setting quarterback Garrett Gilbert to graduation. Sophomore Neal Burcham is expected to take over at the position.
Burcham passed for 556 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions in 2013. He will lead the Mustangs' run-and-shoot offense. Do not be surprised if SMU tries to slow the game down and grind it out on offense with running back Prescott Line. The 6'0", 232-pound sophomore rushed for 332 yards and three touchdowns in 2013.
SMU returns three of its five starters on the offensive line and brings back its entire defensive line. The team will be experienced in the trenches but simply does not have the talent to match up with the Aggies for four quarters.
This is a game that will be relatively close for a half, with the Aggies pulling away in the second half. If the Aggies can force some turnovers, then it could be a blowout.
Predicted Results: Texas A&M 40, SMU 19
The Aggies will play Arkansas at AT&T Stadium on September 27. Texas A&M will be looking for its first victory over the Razorbacks in Arlington, Texas. The Aggies are 2-0 against Arkansas since joining the SEC, but those two games were home and away contests.
The 2014 game will be a continuation of the 10-year contract that Arkansas and A&M started in 2009. The Aggies are 0-3 against Arkansas in games in Arlington.
The 2014 version of the Razorbacks will be built around their running game. Sophomore running back Alex Collins and junior running back Jonathan Williams combined for 1,926 yards rushing in 2013 and will be the focus of the 2014 offense.
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema wants to transform his school into an SEC version of Wisconsin. He wants to win with a strong running game and a stout defense.
Luckily for the Aggies, the Texas A&M defensive line should be the strength of the defense in 2014. The Aggies will match up well against the Razorbacks in the trenches. Arkansas will not be able to move the ball effectively enough to keep up with the Aggies offense.
Predicted Results: Texas A&M 37, Arkansas 20
The Aggies will travel to Starkville, Mississippi, on October 4 to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Texas A&M is 2-0 against the Bulldogs since joining the SEC. The Aggies won 38-13 the last time the two teams met in Starkville.
The 2013 Bulldogs squad was a young one with a lot of freshmen and sophomores seeing extensive playing time. The 2014 team is a veteran squad that will feature 11 senior starters.
This game will come down to whether the Aggies can contain the Bulldogs' junior quarterback Dak Prescott. If they can keep him in the pocket and passing the ball, then the Aggies will have a great chance at getting a win on the road.
If they allow Prescott to gash the defense with his scrambling, then it will be a long day for the Aggie defense. Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has not lost to Dan Mullen yet, and 2014 will not be the first time. Expect the Aggies to find a way to win a close one on the road.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 31, MSU 27
The Aggies will finally get the opportunity to host Ole Miss in 2014 after playing their first two contests against them in Oxford, Mississippi. The Aggies came back in the fourth quarter to win both of those games.
Ole Miss returns 15 starters from an 8-5 team in 2013. The Rebels have nine starters returning on defense from a unit that typically has caused the Aggies to struggle with their quickness.
This may be a game where the Aggies decide to line up on offense and try to run over the opposing defense. On offense, the Rebels return three-year starter Bo Wallace at quarterback and likely the best left tackle the Aggies will face all year in sophomore Laremy Tunsil.
Sophomore tight end Evan Engram and sophomore wide receiver Laquon Treadwell are very good players who will be a major challenge for the Aggies' linebackers and defensive backs. The Texas A&M defensive line needs to put pressure on Wallace and force him to rush his decisions.
Wallace has thrown 27 interceptions during the past two seasons. If the Aggies defensive line can get to him, he will turn the ball over and the home crowd at Kyle Field will smell blood in the water. This will be a tough game against a West division rival, but one the Aggies should win.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 37, Ole Miss 29
The Aggies will travel to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on October 18 to take on the Crimson Tide. This will be an interesting matchup, as there are still a lot of question marks surrounding both teams.
Alabama will be strong in the trenches and returns two running backs who have NFL scouts drooling in junior T.J. Yeldon and sophomore Derrick Henry. The questions for the Crimson Tide are: Who will play quarterback, and how effective will he be?
The Aggies have major question marks at linebacker. If they can find three reliable linebackers, and Alabama does not have a quality quarterback, then this will be a close game. If the Aggies do not see decent play from their linebacker unit, then the Tide will be able to win this game without passing the ball.
Expect the Aggies to get decent performances from their linebackers, but the Tide simply have too much talent for the Aggies to win on the road.
Predicted Result: Alabama 31, Texas A&M 27
After losing to Alabama, the Aggies will return home to face the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. The Warhawks always have a couple of NFL prospects on their roster, and this game will not be easy.
This is a game where the Aggies' skill position talent should make all of the difference. The Warhawks defense will not be able to keep up with Noil, Ricky Seals-Jones, Cameron Clear, Williams and Tra Carson.
Louisiana-Monroe will be a decent team, but the Aggies will score a lot in this one in the second half. Do not be surprised to see Noil break this game open with a special teams touchdown.
After a loss to the Crimson Tide, this game will get the Aggies back to their winning ways.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 48, Louisiana-Monroe 26
The Aggies will have to travel to Auburn, Alabama, on November 8 to take on the Auburn Tigers. The Tigers return Nick Marshall at quarterback. It will mark the first time that head coach Gus Malzahn will coach a starting quarterback for consecutive years since he became a college head coach (Arkansas State in 2012).
The Tigers went 12-2 in Malzahn's inaugural campaign as a head coach at the school in 2013. They return 14 starters from that team and should bring a more diverse offense.
Sammie Coates and D'Haquille Williams will give the Tigers two game-breaking options at wide receiver. That should keep opposing defenses from putting eight and nine men in the box to stop the run.
Auburn had four comeback wins during its run to the national title game in 2013. One of those was at Kyle Field. The Aggies should be a better overall team than the one that lost to Auburn 45-41 in 2013. However, finding a way to win at Auburn will be tough for a team that does not have a great defense yet.
Predicted Result: Auburn 31, Texas A&M 26
The Missouri Tigers will travel to Kyle Field to play the Aggies on November 15. The Tigers beat Texas A&M 28-21 to close out the 2013 regular season and win the SEC East.
Only eight starters return from that team as Missouri lost a lot of senior leadership. The 2014 version of the Tigers will be a solid team, but they will not have the difference-makers along the defensive line that made the 2013 squad so tough.
Shane Ray Jr. and Markus Golden put up good numbers in 2013 when the two backup defensive ends combined for 11 sacks. They are not Michael Sam and Kony Ealy, though. Missouri is going to take a step back as a team.
The Aggies will win this game because Missouri will not be able to stop the Texas A&M offense. This should be a comfortable victory for the Aggies at home.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 43, Missouri 23
The LSU Tigers will travel to Kyle Field on Thanksgiving Day to complete the triumvirate of "Tigers" at the end of the Aggies' 2014 schedule. Louisiana State has had 18 underclassmen declare for the NFL draft over the past two years.
That is more than any other program in the nation. At some point, that huge loss in personnel has to negatively affect the performance on the field, and the 2014 season is probably that point.
The Tigers will play the Aggies in the last game of the season, so any earlier mistakes due to youth and inexperience should have been resolved by that point.
LSU returns four starters on its offensive line, which means that head coach Les Miles should be able to grind away on teams with the running game. That is the style of offense that Miles prefers, and he should enjoy his 2014 team.
The Tigers will be a solid squad in 2014, but they will not have elite talent across the board like they have had in the past. The Aggies will get their first win against LSU in their last four tries.
Predicted Result: Texas A&M 30, LSU 24