Back-to-back home losses have left Texas A&M (5-4, 3-3 SEC) reeling as it finishes a three-game homestand against New Mexico (7 p.m. ET Saturday, ESPNU).
It’s a pretty straightforward proposition on paper, but not much has come easy for the Aggies this season.
Here are five things you should know about this matchup:
1. The quarterbacks
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said that Nick Starkel had “earned back his spot” as the starting quarterback after the Auburn game. The redshirt freshman was 11 for 22 passing for 184 yards and 2 touchdowns last week.
It seems likely that the other Texas A&M quarterback, Kellen Mond, also will play, if for no other reason than to build his confidence. He hasn’t played well lately, but he brings an element of mobility that can give defenses trouble.
New Mexico also is likely to rotate quarterbacks, as it did last week against Utah State. Redshirt freshman Tevaka Tuioti and senior Lamar Jordan likely will see action, and the duo has combined to complete 50 percent of their passes for 1,123 yards, 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
2. Series history
Texas A&M holds a 3-0 edge in the series, and will be facing Lobos coach Bob Davie — a former Texas A&M defensive coordinator — on the opposing sideline.
3. The opening line
Auburn is a 19-point favorite. The over/under is 51.5.
4. Stat to watch
New Mexico ranks 128th out of 130 FBS schools with a minus-14 turnover margin and has turned the ball over 25 times this season. Texas A&M, on the other hand, is third in the SEC with a plus-5 turnover margin.
5. What’s at stake
With two straight SEC West losses at Kyle Field, the Aggies are in the midst of another late-season swoon. Stories about Sumlin’s job status are popping up like weeds in the driveway, and that’s the sort of negative attention that makes winning football games all the more challenging.
No disrespect to New Mexico, but this is a game that Texas A&M should win in a romp. That said, Sumlin isn’t being paid $5 million a season to beat up on Mountain West schools.
He needs a big win Saturday night, one that supplies some confidence for his team. Hopefully, that will build some momentum for conference road trips to Ole Miss and LSU to close out the regular season.
Not to put the cart before the horse, but an eight-win season is still in play. Whether that achievement would be enough to buy Sumlin another season in College Station is another matter.
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