Location: Kyle Field, College Station, Tx
Kickoff: Thursday, August 29, 7:30 p.m. CST
TV: SEC Network
Series Record: Aggies lead series 2-0; first meeting in 1919 (Aggies won 28-0)
Last Meeting: Aggies won their last meeting 44-31 in 2005
Betting Line: TAMU -34 1/2, O/U: 57 1/2
Well folks, it’s finally here. The 2019 college football season is upon us and all the months of waiting, speculating, and anticipation come to an end.
In San Marcos, the Texas State faithful welcome quarterback-whisperer Jake Spavital with open arms after just seven wins in three seasons for the Bobcats under the previous regime. Spavital restocked the Texas State coaching staff with new faces, including innovative offensive guru Bob Stitt.
The ‘Cats have one of the oldest rosters in the nation. Things are looking up for the “sleeping giants” of the Hill Country and the optimism for Texas State have never been higher.
So who do the Bobcats have first on their schedule to start the Spav era?
It’s the 12th-ranked Texas Agricultural & Mechanical Aggies. Do the ‘Cats stand a chance against Jimbo Fisher and his squad? Maybe.?!
Let’s break it down:
How Many Aggies Does It Take...?
Texas A&M isn’t ranked high for nothing. Quarterback Kellen Mond had a solid 2018 sophomore campaign throwing for over 3,100 yards with 24 touchdowns to only nine interceptions with seven rushing touchdowns. ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit believes Mond will be a breakout star in 2019 and at the SEC media days, Mond claimed he was the best quarterback in the conference.
The offensive line of Texas A&M is bolstered by experience with four returning juniors and a freshman in the trenches to protect Mond and open up holes for the backs.
Speaking of running backs, Trayveon Williams left for the NFL after posting a school record 1,760 yards on the ground in 2019, leaving a big void in the backfield. Sophomore Jashaun Corbin is expected to fill that void but a recent hamstring injury leaves his status against Texas State up in the air.
Tight end is also a question of concern with All-American Jace Sternberger leaving for the NFL as well. Sternberger was the Aggies’ leading receiver with 48 catches for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Defensively, six of the Aggies front seven are gone and those six that left accounted for 25 of the team’s 37 sacks. In 2018, the Aggies also had the third ranked rushing defense.
On the line, defensive tackle Justin Madubuike, who had 5.5 sacks last year in a stellar sophomore campaign, is improving and will be the prominent man on the line. Jimbo Fisher has recruited one hell of a class the past two years but his players are talented yet untested but come game time I think the coaching staff will have them ready no matter the situation.
Cat Scratch Fever
Texas State will have a tall task in travelling the relatively manageable 120 miles to Aggieland to play impressively, ruin some spreads and possibly pull out an upset.
Sophomore quarterback Tyler Vitt was named the starter for Thursday beating out transfer Gresch Jensen. Vitt played in nine games last year throwing 1,159 yards with seven touchdowns and three more offensive scores (two rushing and one receiving). Although plagued by inept play calling and a trial-by-fire audition last year, a retooled offensive scheme and an impressive off-season gave the Bobcat coaching staff the confidence to make Vitt the man come this Thursday.
If Vitt starts to sputter, expect Jensen to make an appearance.
Texas State’s running backs are the strongest bunch of the offense. Senior Anthony Taylor who led the ‘Cats with four rushing touchdowns is the number one back with Jaylen Nelson and Caleb Twyford splitting the second spot. If the Bobcats can establish their rushing game early, this could keep them competitive and keep that high powered Aggie offense off the field.
Defensively, the Bobcats have the best defense they’ve had in a while. The line is more experienced and the secondary vastly improved although the depth is a bit thin in terms of serviceability at some positions.
The linebacking corps is the strongest led by all-world Bryan London II. The Bednarik and Bronko Nagurski watch list member is ready to make a big bang in his final season after leading the Sun Belt in tackles his freshman and junior seasons.
Hard-hitting senior Frankie Griffin is another key piece of that linebacking unit. Griffin is the man knocking the piss out of anyone who London II can’t get a hold of making the middle formidable against this experienced lot.
Since I’ve been writing for Underdog Dynasty, I’ve always felt like wide receiver Hutch White was always a potential ace up the sleeve for any Bobcat coordinator and now with the upgrade to the coaching staff and schemes I do believe again White can be that X-factor for any jet sweeps, gadget plays or slot routes.
I’ve never picked against Texas State (although the ‘Cats are 5-27 since I was brought on, oops) and in keeping with tradition I’m still going for the 37-36 upset. Texas A&M is a very talented team and realistically, the odds are the Aggies will win, but I don’t think they’ll cover the spread.
Give the Aggies credit for penciling in the Bobcats for a nice in-state matchup. Only time will tell if those babies in Austin will ever do the same for Texas State. I want revenge for that 1930 loss.