Saturday, December 19, 2020, Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee, noon ET
Aggies at Volunteers Betting Preview: Aggies (-13.5), Volunteers (+13.5)
No. 5 Texas A&M is in prime position to maintain pressure on the top four contenders in the hopes of securing a bid to the College Football Plaoff.
That adds a little extra to the regular-season finale at Tennessee.
“The goal for the end of the season is to finish, to keep doing what we have been doing, to keep pushing, to keep climbing and going over those stepping stones,” Aggies defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal said. “We have to figure out who we want to be and how great we want to be.”
With each of the top four teams also in action Saturday — including a head-to-head meeting between Nos. 2 and 3 Notre Dame and Clemson in the ACC championship — there’s certainly potential for the Aggies to reach CFP paydirt.
Still, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher has been diligent in keeping the Aggies (7-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference), winners of six straight, focused solely on Tennessee. Save the speculation for later or scrap it altogether should the Aggies lose to the Volunteers, who snapped a six-game skid with last week’s 42-17 victory at in-state foe Vanderbilt.
“You control where you are going to go based on what you do,” Fisher said. “Guys are either going to believe it or not. Our guys have done a great job doing that, eliminating the clutter and blocking it out.
“Those things are all poison since they don’t help you. What helps you is how you practice, play and prepare. It’s what it has to get down to, and I think we have done that all year, and, hopefully, we can do that one more time before the postseason.”
Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond enters the game needing four touchdown rushing or passing to set a school record for touchdowns responsible for. He has 90in his career — 70 passing and 20 passing. Johnny Manziel had a total of 93 rushing and passing.
Volunteers offensive lineman Trey Smith sees the game against Texas A&M as “an extremely big deal” with what is at stake for the Aggies.
“They’ll be coming in and playing with their best ‘A’’game to put on a great performance,” Smith said. “In the same breath, we have to come prepared because they’re one of the top five teams in the country. They’re a very talented group.”
Tennessee (3-6, 3-6 SEC) snapped its losing streak at six games with last week’s 42-17 victory over Vanderbilt. True freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey steered the win, finishing 14-for-18 passing for a career-best 207 yards and two touchdowns.
If Tennessee has hopes of prevailing in its fourth game against a top-five foe in 2020, containing Aggies running back Isaiah Spiller will be key.
Spiller has rushed for over 100 yards six times this season, going for 120 in the Aggies’ most recent contest, a 31-20 win at Auburn on Dec. 5.
“I feel like when we get the run game going, we are pretty hard to stop because then we can hit you with a pass,” Spiller said. “We are all-around a good team, but when our run game is going, we are pretty hard to stop.”
The Vols have surrendered an average of only 133.3 yards a game to opposing rushers. The Aggies have averaged just over 201 yards a game on the ground.
Aggies at Volunteers Betting Pick for December 19, 2020
Both teams lost to Alabama (A&M 52-24 and Tennessee 48-17), but the Aggies have a 41-38 win over Florida while the Vols lost to the Gators 31-19. This will be just the fourth meeting between the two with the Vols holding a 2-1 series edge though the Aggies won the last meeting 45-38 in College Station in 2016. Tennessee’s wins came in the Cotton Bowl (38-7 on Jan. 1, 2006) and Gator Bowl (3-0 on Dec. 27, 1957).
Aggies at Volunteers Betting Pick:
Aggies 42, Volunteers 17
Aggies at Volunteers Best Bet for December 19, 2020
The Vols scored a season-high in their 42-17 win over winless Vanderbilt in their last outing.The Aggies beat the Commodores 17-12 to start the season. The Aggies have been over the 30-mark four times, the Vols three times but only once in their last seven games.
Aggies at Volunteers Best Bet: OVER 51.5