Jimbo Fisher will coach in his first bowl game as head coach at Texas A&M on New Year’s Eve. After resigning as head coach of the Florida State Seminoles, Fisher has settled in nicely in Aggie Land. He went 8-4 in his first season at Texas A&M and we should expect it to only go up from here. Fisher has looked exceptionally better with Kevin Sumlin recruits than Sumlin did with his own guys.
Sumlin is in Arizona without a bowl game to play in this season. The Wildcats regressed with Sumlin at the helm, as Khalil Tate lost a step with his new head coach. He was bothered by a bad ankle all season long, so that definitely had something to do with it. There aren’t any excuses for Sumlin and Tate next season.
Fisher has taken his former team and brought them to a decent bowl game in just a year. Texas A&M went 7-6 a season ago with a loss to Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl. They shouldn’t be losing to teams like Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl, and under Jimbo, you’re likely not going to see that happening.
The Aggies finished the regular season in 2017 getting blown out by a score of 45-21 against LSU. It was a different look in 2018, with the Aggies winning one of the craziest college games in recent memory. A&M and LSU went to seven overtimes, with the Aggies ultimately getting out of it as winners in unlikely fashion by a score of 74-72.
Kellen Mond was electric with 6 touchdown passes against a quality LSU defense. Also lighting up the stat sheet was running back Trayveon Williams. The junior ran for 198 yards to eclipse 150 yards for the third straight week. He’s an under the radar guy that has produced like an elite back in 2018.
NC State is going to have to worry about Mond through the air and Williams on the ground. Williams will play in his final game as an Aggie in the Gator Bowl. He’s rushed for 1,524 yards with 16 touchdowns in total. He’s also caught 27 balls for 278 yards receiving.
Ryan Finley will be looking to put on a show for the NFL in this matchup as well. Finley is an interesting prospect that has flown under the radar, too. The last QB to come out of NC State and make an impact was Philip Rivers. Finley hopes to join Rivers as a productive quarterback in the NFL. Good luck matching his professional career, though. Get our free NC State vs. Texas A&M pick in the Gator Bowl below.
NC State Wolfpack vs. Texas A&M Aggies Gator Bowl Betting Odds:
Betting odds provided by bovada.lv
NC State vs. Texas A&M Pick:
Finley has put on some good tape for NFL teams to dwell over. He’s looked sharp in 2018 with 24 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. When he was faced with the best defenses in the ACC, his numbers did slip considerably, though. He threw for just 156 yards with 2 interceptions and no touchdowns against Clemson.
Finley also made several mistakes against Boston College and North Carolina. He isn’t a sure fire selection in the draft, but if he lands with the right team they could be able to turn him into a starter. The Patriots are a team to look out for if Finley is still on the board in the 2nd round. That’d be a best case scenario for Finley.
There will be room to make plays against this Aggies’ secondary. They have struggle defending the pass in 2018, so don’t be surprised to see NC State unloading with Finley early and often in the Gator Bowl. Reggie Gallaspy, who is coming off a 220-yard performance against East Carolina, has been a nice compliment to Finley.
He went over 1,000 yards with that performance. The Wolfpack have what is probably the most underrated offense in the country. They finished the regular season 15th in the FBS with an average of 471 yards per game and over 35 points scored per.
They’ve also featured a pretty impressive defense, but will be without a major cog on that side of the ball in this game. Their leading tackler, Germaine Pratt, will sit this one out instead of risking an injury ahead of the draft. Pratt made 104 tackles and 10.5 tackles for a loss this season.
Mond and Williams should be able to exploit his absence. Mond has been on fire with 11 touchdowns and just 1 interception in the previous three games. He’s passed for 23 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 387 yards rushing and 6 scores on the ground. The Aggies are 18th in the FBS with 466 yards per game and 36.9 points scored. I was expecting a total in the 61 or 60 range here. With that in mind, the OVER is worth a look at the current total of 56.
Happy New Year!