The No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies host the No. 9 Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday, October 8th in a battle of unbeatens in SEC play. The Vols won the last meeting between these teams back in 2005 by a final of 38-7 on the road.
Texas A&M (5-0, 3-0 SEC) went on the road and beat South Carolina 24-13 last week. Trevor Knight threw for 206 yards with an interception, while also rushing for 84 yards and a score in the win.
Tennessee (5-0, 2-0 SEC) had another big comeback victory over Georgia last week. After giving up a 47-yard touchdown pass with only 10 seconds to go, the Vols managed to come back with a 43-yard hail mary of their own to win a 34-31 thriller.
Kickoff inside Kyle Field is scheduled for 3:30 EST Saturday afternoon with CBS providing the television coverage. The Week 6 odds show Texas A&M as a 6.5-point favorite over Tennessee with a total set of 56.5 points.
I think this game is one of the toughest to call this week, but my lean is on the Aggies laying less than a touchdown at home. I just think it’s a much better situation for them than it is for the Volunteers, though I do think these teams are pretty evenly-matched if this was on a neutral field.
Texas A&M has played a brutal schedule already with UCLA out of conference and three SEC games already, yet it has gotten through unscathed. The Aggies are the real deal this season with how they have performed against this schedule.
All five wins have come by at least a touchdown. The Aggies beat UCLA 31-24 in the opener, beat Arkansas 45-24 on a neutral field, and topped both Auburn (29-16) and South Carolina (24-13) in true road games. After three straight games away from home, the Aggies finally return to Kyle Field, which is one of the toughest places to play in the country.
Trevor Knight is guiding a Texas A&M offense that is putting up 39.2 points, 521 yards per game and 6.8 per play against opponents that only allow 29.5 points, 433 yards per game and 5.9 per play. So the Aggies are clearly improved on this side of the ball.
However, the backbone of this Texas A&M team is the defense, which is only surrendering 15.4 points, 388 yards per game and 4.9 yards per play. John Chavis has worked wonders with this defense, which has two of the best pass rushers in the country in Garrett and Hall, who will get after Josh Dobbs all game long.
Tennessee is very fortunate to be 5-0. It has needed big comebacks in three of its five wins, it needed overtime to beat Appalachian State as 21.5-point favorites, and it only beat Ohio 28-19 as 27.5-point favorites.
With wins over Florida and Georgia the last two weeks, the Vols control the SEC East. And with Alabama on deck next week, this is the dreaded sandwich game where I believe Tennessee doesn’t even show up.
The Vols erased a 14-0 deficit against Virginia Tech, a 21-3 deficit against Florida, and a 24-14 deficit against Georgia. I believe they may be out of lives this week as this is an absolutely terrible spot for them.
With wins over Florida and Georgia the last two weeks, the Vols control the SEC East. And with Alabama on deck next week, this is the dreaded sandwich game where I believe Tennessee doesn’t even show up. The Vols can lose this game and still win the SEC East because they own the tiebreaker. They won’t be nearly as motivated as they were the last two weeks, and as they will be next week against Alabama.
Texas A&M has a bye next week and will want to go into the bye 6-0. It will be putting its best foot forward as a result. Having that bye next week is huge because the Aggies also have Alabama on deck, but with two weeks until that game, they won’t be looking ahead to it.
My only concern in this game is that the back door may be open with this 6.5-point spread. The Vols have just had a knack for the comeback, and they are actually winning their close games this year unlike last year. But Garrett and Hall should prevent that from happening with their ability to get after Dobbs in the pass rush.