After their thrilling overtime win over Arkansas, Texas A&M returns to Kyle Field to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. This SEC East-West crossover game starts at 7:30 EST from College Station, and will be televised on the SEC Network.
This month has been a whirlwind for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. He’s gone from blowing a huge lead over UCLA, to getting threats in the mail, and now has beaten Arkansas and could easily start 2-0 in SEC play after this weekend.
He has a group of dependable running backs to choose from, and one of the best WRs in the country. His defense is still in need of significant improvements, but they won’t be playing an offense with nearly as much firepower this week in comparison to Arkansas.
South Carolina comes in lost on offense over the past two weeks and sorely missing their best player, WR Deebo Samuel. They’ll need a shining performance from their defense to keep this game close. For any chance of an upset, they’re going to have to find some help for QB Jake Bentley, whether on the ground or from a receiver ready to somewhat fill Samuel’s shoes.
Cocky is currently nine-point underdogs on the road.
RB Tyson Williams is rejuvenating the run game a bit after Rico Dowdle’s sluggish start. They need every bit of his skill after the loss they experienced two weeks ago on the perimeter.
The season-ending injury of WR Deebo Samuel is huge. Having him and Bryan Edwards across from each other created matchup problems for defenses. Now the Gamecocks have only one elite receiver and a solid TE in Hayden Hurst to boost their passing game.
When things got hairy, Samuel was the guy to get Bentley out of those jams. Now that he doesn’t have that key piece, the offense becomes much less of a threat. And Texas A&M isn’t the team to play if you’re light on offense. Because more times than not, you won’t be able to keep up on the scoreboard.
RB Trayveon Williams has delivered for the Aggies with four early touchdowns and a 6.5-yard rushing average. They have a bigger back to go to in Keith Ford, who came over from Oklahoma, and sparkplug Kendall Bussey as well. All three are good for various situations and have picked each other up whenever one back hits a rut.
South Carolina was 90th versus the run in 2016. A SEC-caliber back can still do a lot of damage to that front seven. Having running backs with multiple styles and fresh legs will be too much for South Carolina late in the game, even if A&M’s line isn’t exactly renown.
But the biggest problem for the Gamecocks will be moving the ball, even if the Aggies are often known to be soft defensively. The improvements of their front have been noted. Arkansas broke through against it, but it hasn’t allowed 100 yards on the ground in its other three games.
South Carolina doesn’t have the running game yet to burn them, so they’ll have to rely on Bentley. He’s the last guy to back down from a challenge like this, but losing Samuel takes away their best source of game-breaking abilities. The Gamecocks aren’t the team that was 116th in the country in scoring last year.
They have, however, only scored 30 points in their last pair of games. And they’re likely not good enough to keep up with Texas A&M even if they scored that many in one game.