Georgia is currently No. 4 in the College Football Playoff rankings and has already won the SEC East, but the Dawgs have a tough SEC crossover matchup with Texas A&M this week.
Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2 SEC) has had one of the toughest schedules in America so far this season and it’s only getting tougher. The Aggies’ three losses this season have come to No. 1 Clemson (24-10), No. 8 Auburn (28-20), and No. 1 Alabama (47-28). Now, the Aggies get No. 4 Georgia, followed by No. 1 LSU.
The TAMU offense has been steady this season and scored at least 20 points in nine of 10 games. The key to the offense has been the play of junior quarterback Kellen Mond, who has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,435 yards and 18 touchdowns. Mond also can tuck the ball and run, which has equated to 400 yards on the ground this season and seven more scores. The Aggies returned their top two receivers from a year ago, juniors Jhamon Ausbon and Quartney Davis, who have combined for 95 catches for 1,233 yard and seven touchdowns. On the ground, freshman running back Isaiah Spiller has been the lead back, accumulating 796 yards and eight touchdowns. Fellow freshman tight end Jalen Wydermyer has been a red zone threat, with a team-high six touchdown catches.
On defense, the Aggies rank slightly higher than the offense, primarily by being an elite pass defense. Texas A&M ranks No. 6 nationally in defensive passing efficiency and limit opponents to less than 200 yards passing per game. The Aggies haven’t been particularly good at getting to opposing quarterbacks as their leader in sacks is junior defensive lineman Justin Madubuike with just 3.5 sacks. But eight different Aggies have intercepted a pass this year, including two picks for senior defensive back Roney Elam and junior defensive back Myles Jones.
Georgia (9-1, 6-1 SEC) has been steady all season, but not particularly flashy. The Dawgs have three wins against ranked opponents and will face another in the SEC Championship.
Offensively, Georgia has one of the best “game-managers” in college football. Junior quarterback Jake Fromm is 33-6 in his career as a starter and has led the Dawgs to the SEC Championship Game in each of the last three years. Fromm hasn’t been asked to much this season but has thrown 16 touchdowns to just three interceptions, all of which came in the lone Georgia loss to South Carolina on October 12. The Bulldogs are a run-first offense, led by junior D’Andre Swift, who has 1,027 yards and seven touchdowns this year. Behind Swift are very capable backs, including senior Brian Herrien, who has emerged as a legitimate pass-catching threat, and redshirt freshman Zamir White, who was the top running back coming out of high school two years ago.
The Georgia defense has been the best in the SEC this season. The Dawgs rank first in nearly every major statistical category: scoring defense, rushing defense and total defense. The only thing Georgia doesn’t do is force turnovers as the Bulldogs have just 11 takeaways in 10 games. But Georgia is elite in critical situations: on third down and in the red zone. The Bulldogs lead the SEC and rank in the top-10 nationally in third-down defense, holding opponents under 30 percent on third-down conversions, and in the red zone, where they have allowed opponents to score just 60 percent of the time. Veteran linebackers Monty Rice (junior) and Tae Crowder (senior) lead the Dawgs in tackles, while the elder statesmen on the back end, senior safety J.R. Reed and junior safety Richard LeCounte, make up one of the most dynamic secondaries in America.
This game, like any game, is about limiting turnovers. Both Georgia and Texas A&M have excelled when they don’t turn the ball over. Count on a few momentum-changing turnovers to affect the outcome of this one.