Texas A&M comes off of a shocking upset at Auburn to knock those Tigers out of a College Football Playoff spot, but will it have enough left for the other Tigers from Missouri?
The home team could possibly be in letdown mode Saturday after playing its Super Bowl last week and the Missouri Tigers (7-2, 3-0 away) could be the beneficiaries when they pay a visit to those Texas A&M Aggies (7-3, 4-1 home) at Kyle Field in College Station, TX at 7:30 ET in a game televised nationally on SEC Network.
The posted line at Bet365 has Missouri as a road underdog of +4 for this contest at current odds of -105.
Seemingly Out of Nowhere
Texas A&M got off to great start in the post-Johnny Manziel era by beginning this season at 5-0, but the best win in that time was probably opening week vs. a South Carolina team that has not turned out to be as good as many expected before this season. The Aggies then lost three straight games and followed that with a bad 21-16 win over UL-Monroe as a 32-point favorite before shocking Auburn and most of the world 41-38 last Saturday as a 23½-point underdog.
Missouri meanwhile is trying to repeat as SEC East Division Champion, and to the surprise of many the Tigers do again lead the division at 4-1. They cannot afford another slip-up however as the Georgia Bulldogs are sitting at 5-2 and hold the tiebreaker over Missouri by virtue of a 34-0 college football pick win head-to-head vs. the Tigers on Octobers 11th.
Defense Keys SEC East Lead
Missouri is down offensively compared to last season, which is not surprising considering the Tigers lost their leading rusher and top three receivers in terms of receptions, but the defense has been very solid ranking 26th in the country in total defense allowing 340.3 yards per game and 15th in points against at 19.3 per contest. The Tigers have also had two weeks to prepare for this contest since defeating the Kentucky Wildcats 20-10.
That marked the fourth time in the last five games that Missouri has allowed 20 points or less with the Georgia loss being the lone exception, a streak that began with a 21-20 road win at South Carolina while holding the Gamecocks to 338 total yards. As a point of reference, consider that Texas A&M surrendered 433 yards to that same South Carolina team at the same venue back in Week 1. The Tigers have also now allowed 14 points or less in three straight contests.
And the best aspect of the Missouri defense is that it has no real weakness, ranking 32nd in the land in rushing defense while allowing just 3.3 yards per carry and 37th in passing defense while yielding only 6.0 yards per pass attempt.
Aggies Still Cannot Defend
The Aggies meanwhile were rather fortunate to pull the upset at Auburn last Saturday as they were outgained by 129 yards while allowing those Tigers to run up a whopping 582 yards of total offense, but benefitted greatly from three Auburn turnovers including a crucial game-deciding one when the Tigers lost a fumble inside the Texas A&M five-yard-line in the final minutes.
And those defensive struggles are nothing new for an A&M team that ranked 114th in the country in total defense last season and is only up to 92nd this year while still permitting 431.0 yards per game, ranking 100th vs. the rush and 79th vs. the pass. The Aggies were struggling defensively even during the 5-0 start and that shoddy aspect of the team caught up to them during the three-game losing streak.
They lost those games by scores of 48-31 to Mississippi State allowing 559 total yards, 35-20 to Ole Miss and, in their worst game yet, 59-0 to Alabama allowing 602 yards while producing just 172 offensively! That led to the benching of quarterback Kenny Hill in favor of Kyle Allen, even though the latter has completed only 57.9 percent of his passes and is averaging just 6.8 yards per pass attempt compared to 66.7 percent and 8.3 YPA for Hill.
Missouri Stifled Manziel & Co. Last Year
Finally, the Tigers had no problem stuffing the Aggies’ offense with Manziel at the helm last season, holding Texas A&M to 21 points and 379 total yards overall and Johnny Football to 195 passing yards.
Expect more stiff defense by Missouri here vs. a more inexperienced quarterback, which makes these points worth taking in a possible upset over Texas A&M at College Station on Saturday.
College Football Pick: Missouri +4 (-105)