After much debate over whether Texas A&M deliberately tried to dodge a match-up with Texas Tech, they landed in Nashville for the Music City Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals. Two teams coming together whose seasons started and ended in very different ways.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl: Texas A&M v Louisville
The Aggies raced out to a 5-0 record with three impressive wins before struggling through to finish 8-4 while Louisville lost their first three games close before rebounding with seven wins in the last nine to reach 7-5 for the year. Between that and the fact Texas A&M have lost both quarterbacks who’ve made starts this year it would appear the momentum is with Louisville going into the game.
Texas A&M Aggies
The worst case scenario for bowl season has already happened for the Aggies. Both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray have decided to transfer away from the program. This leaves JUCO transfer Jake Hubenak as the starter at quarterback by virtue of him being the only scholarship quarterback left. To be fair, he has always wanted to play for Texas A&M after being a fan at a young age so the Aggie fan base does finally have a player who wants be at College Station as much as they do.
But whether he can lead the Aggies to victory in this game is another matter. Head coach Kevin Sumlin will lean on the mediocre running game more with an inexperienced quarterback playing so running back Tra Carson could be key. The defense has been much improved this year so this could be lower scoring than many might expect but stopping the run will be key here if the likes of Myles Garrett and Dashon hall are to get pass rushing opportunities.
Bobby Petrino has to be pleased with how his team rallied after that 0-3 start and even the resilience they showed in staging a big comeback against Kentucky in their final regular season game. Quarterback Lamar Jackson has been impressive as a dual threat and his athleticism might give him a chance against the ferocious Aggie pass rush. The Cardinals will look to run the ball on early downs to give them manageable third downs to negate the strength of the opposition defense.
It’s the Cardinals defense that is the strongest unit in this game as they boast one of the best run stopping groups in the country. Against a team that is effectively starting its third string quarterback this year you can imagine they’ll be looking to make Jake Hubenak beat them with his arm. Especially as they have edge rushers Trevon Young and Devonte Fields having excellent seasons, both with eight sacks on the year.
The game was originally predicted to be a close win for Texas A&M but after all the change at quarterback it has now swung towards Louisville. But the lack of tape or knowledge of what Jake Hubenak is like could work in the Aggies favor as Kevin Sumlin is well-known for his work with young quarterbacks. There’s also the fact that Kevin Sumlin has yet to lose a bowl game as head coach at Texas A&M.
But with the Aggie offense struggling and Louisville having enough weapons to be able to run the ball effectively against the Aggies front seven on defense, the Cardinals look most likely to sneak the win here.
Louisville Cardinals 27, Texas A&M Aggies 24