The Aggies hail LSU for their bowl game, the Tigers try not to look forward to Georgia
Published Saturday 26 November 2022 at 11:00 am
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — It’s easy to get lost in the mix, but LSU might want to check the fine print on this possible route to the College Football Playoffs.
An upset against No. 1 Georgia in next week’s Southeastern Conference championship game gets most of the ink.
But the wording in the deal — a lesser-known fact — is that the Tigers (9-2, 6-1 SEC) must “win,” meaning they must also beat Texas A&M in tonight’s regular-season finals.
A loss to the Aggies wouldn’t negate the trip to Atlanta as LSU has already decided that. But it can’t afford to lose if it wants to keep alive hopes of making the CFP in Brian Kelly’s first year as head coach.
On paper, it may seem like a foregone conclusion. The game fits perhaps the two most surprising teams in the SEC — on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Picked for fifth in the SEC West, LSU was looking good after opening the season with a sloppy 24-23 loss to Florida State. But the Tigers have won five straight games since losing to Tennessee 40-13 in early October.
Texas A&M, on the other hand, started the season with high hopes, finishing sixth in the nation. It didn’t last.
The Aggies needed a lackluster win over the modest Massachusetts last week to break a six-game losing streak that was heading into their final game of the season.
So it’s a 4-7 record on paper, 1-6 in the SEC.
Kelly doesn’t see that.
“This is arguably as talented a football team as we’re going to see throughout the year,” Kelly said. “They are young in some areas, but that doesn’t detract from the talent.”
It will be Kelly’s first game against Texas A&M, but since his days at Notre Dame he’s no stranger to embattled Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher.
The two faced each other twice while Fisher was at Florida State, with the Seminoles both winning (18-14 in 2011 and 31-27 in 2014).
“Jimbo is obviously a great football coach,” Kelly said. “The calling card has always been outstanding offense and the ability to play aggressive defense. They’ve always been a great game and look forward to another one.”
Two of the Aggies’ losses were by less than a touchdown, including a 24-20 loss to Alabama. But not much has happened for the team.
“You can see it’s really scary at times,” Kelly said of how well A&M plays. “Then, you know, sometimes there’s a loss of concentration. But when they put it all together, it’s not a team to mess around with. It’s a very talented team.”
“I want to see fire and juice,” said Fisher, who spent seven years (2000-2006) as offensive coordinator at LSU and was often rumored to be on LSU’s wish list to become a head coach.
“You have to come out of there ready to play.”
It’s what Kelly says that worries him – that the Aggies will bring together all the talent in their final game of the season.
“This will be her game,” Kelly said. “The last thing they’re going to play is against their rival, they’re going to play their absolute best against us.”