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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Texas A&M pitcher Ryan Prager (18) delivers a pitch during Texas A&M’s game against Kentucky at the NCAA Men’s College World Series at in Omaha, Nebraska on Monday, June 17, 2024. Prager went for 6.2 innings, allowing two hits and zero runs. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)
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A&M football faces narrow opening for playoffs

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+head+coach+Jimbo+Fisher+walking+down+the+sideline.
Photo by Photo by Robert O’Brien

Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher walking down the sideline.

With the first half of the regular season in the rearview mirror, college football fans are assessing their teams’ potential postseason options.
Most teams are still looking for that magical sixth win that guarantees inclusion in a postseason bowl game. However, the No. 14 Aggies’ 44-14 triumph over South Carolina marked their sixth victory of the season, making them among the 16 Power Five teams that are bowl-eligible heading into Week 9.
With this in mind, let’s break down some potential postseason scenarios for the Aggies.
College Football Playoff
At 6-2, the Aggies’ chances of reaching the College Football playoff are incredibly slim — but not impossible. Since the establishment of the four-team playoff format in 2014, no two-loss team has been selected for the tournament. Despite this realization, a two-loss champion in college football is not unheard of, with former head coach Les Miles leading an 11-2 LSU team to a title in 2007. Although the landscape of college football was different in 2007 with the Bowl Championship Series format and the unprecedented number of upsets that season, it speaks to the unpredictability of the sport.
The Aggies’ 10-point loss to Arkansas and 4-point loss to Mississippi State were not pretty, but the upsets occurred early enough in the season to argue the team has drastically improved since those outings. The team was also experiencing quarterback turmoil, which seems to have worked itself out over the past month of football.
For the committee to even consider looking to College Station for a playoff team, a few key pieces need to fall into place. First, the Aggies must win out. Their final third of the season features a road game against No. 10 Ole Miss and unranked LSU, and home meetings with No. 18 Auburn and FCS neighbor Prairie View A&M. If the squad drops any of these games, the Playoff is off the table.
Second, Alabama and Miss. St. both need to lose conference games to allow A&M to qualify for the SEC Championship. Since the Aggies upset the Tide, they need Alabama to lose one of its final three conference games against LSU, Arkansas or Auburn. Miss. St. needs to lose two of its final four conference games against No. 16 Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn and Ole Miss. If both of these hypotheticals occur, the Aggies will have an invite to Atlanta for the conference title game.
Last, the Aggies need to win the SEC Championship. They would face the winner of the Eastern division of the SEC. Barring a borderline-unfathomable turn of events, that opponent would be No. 1 Georgia. The Bulldogs have earned their ranking, boasting the top defense in the country by a wide margin, allowing just 208.3 yards per game. While Georgia’s offense has not shattered any statistical landmarks, it still puts up a daunting 38.4 points per game, third in the SEC.
If A&M finds a way to shock the world and win the SEC, it still does not guarantee the squad a playoff spot. They would likely need to leapfrog a potential one-loss team like Ohio State, Oregon or Michigan. However, the committee has shown a favor of resume over record in the past, and rejecting a conference champion with wins over both Alabama and Georgia would be a hard sell to the college football community. It is not probable, but there is a chance.
New Year’s Six Bowl Games
While any team’s goal is to qualify for the Playoff, earning a spot in one of the premier New Year’s Six Bowl Games is the next best thing. This is familiar territory for the Aggies, as they capped off the 2020 season with a 41-27 win over North Carolina in the Orange Bowl.
North Carolina, Florida and Iowa State earned spots in the New Year’s Six with three losses in 2020, but the Aggies should aim to win out to make this scenario more likely. A&M needs to beat Auburn and Ole Miss to beef up its record against ranked opponents. Including its win over Bama, this would bring A&M’s season to 10-2 with three ranked wins. This would all but guarantee a coveted spot in bowl season for the Aggies.
The maroon and white would likely face off against a team with a similar resume in a bowl game, such as a one-loss team. In the Big 10, Michigan, Iowa and Michigan State come to mind. In the ACC, Pittsburgh and Wake Forest seem reasonable. Oregon could also be a potential option from the Pac-12.
Another Bowl Game
This spot is not ideal for the team by any stretch, but if the Aggies drop one or more of their final four games, they will be in line for a lower tier bowl game.
The top SEC team that is not included in the playoff or the Sugar Bowl will likely play in the Citrus Bowl against a top Big 10 opponent. Other bowl games with SEC tie-ins include the Liberty Bowl, the Outback Bowl, the Texas Bowl and the Gator Bowl.
Nothing specific needs to fall into place for the Aggies to appear in one of these games. They have seen recent inclusion in these bowl games, as A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher competed in them during his first two seasons at A&M. The Aggies took down NC State in the Gator Bowl 52-13 in Fisher’s debut season and followed it up by defeating Oklahoma State in the Texas Bowl after his second campaign.

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