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Nov 22, 2019

Texas A&M at Georgia

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Texas A&M Aggies at No. 4 Georgia Bulldogs

Venue/Location: Sanford Stadium, Athens, Georgia
Time/TV: Saturday, Nov. 23, 3:30 p.m. ET
Line: Georgia -13, Total 44

Texas A&M entered the SEC in 2012, but it’ll be facing Georgia for the first time Saturday afternoon in Athens. The Aggies are in the role of spoilers over the next two weeks, as they face No. 4 Georgia and No. 1 LSU.

Georgia controls its own destiny to get to the College Football Playoff, but a loss would knock them out of the picture.

As of late Friday afternoon, most books had Georgia (9-1 straight up, 6-4 against the spread) installed as a 13-point home favorite. The total was 44 points and the Aggies were +400 on the money line. For first-half wagers, most spots had UGA favored by seven with a total of 22 points.

UGA is 5-1 SU but just 2-4 ATS in six home games. The Bulldogs have won four games in a row since taking its lone defeat of the season to South Carolina (20-17 in double overtime). They’re off a 21-14 win at Auburn as three-point favorites.

UGA led 21-0 going into the fourth quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn finally got on the board when Bo Nix found Eli Stove for a three-yard scoring strike with 10:04 remaining. After a quick stop defensively, Nix’s two-yard TD run cut the deficit to 21-14 with 7:03 remaining. Also, it was the first time UGA’s defense gave up a TD on the ground all year.

When Auburn got the ball back trailing by only seven, you could sense another one of those wild finishes coming on The Plains. There have been plenty during Gus Malzahn’s tenure, including the 4th-down TD pass off the deflection to beat UGA in 2013 and the kick-six return against Alabama.

But maybe Gus’s magic – and his time left at Auburn – has run out? Facing a fourth-and-three play at crunch time, Nix had a man open for an easy first-down conversion, but his target couldn’t handle the pass that was thrown well behind him.

Jake Fromm completed only 13-of-28 throws for 110 yards, but he had three TD passes without an interception. D’Andre Swift finished with 106 rushing yards on 17 carries, while Dominick Blaylock had two receptions for 50 yards and one TD. Brian Herrien and Eli Wolf also had TD catches.

Georgia owns notable wins vs. Notre Dame (23-17), at Tennessee (43-14), vs. Kentucky (21-0) vs. Florida (24-17 in Jacksonville) and vs. Missouri (27-0 with the Tigers playing without star QB Kelly Bryant). Kirby Smart’s squad has posted a 4-4 spread record in eight games as a double-digit ‘chalk.’

Fromm, a true junior out of Warner Robbins, GA., has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,968 yards with a 16/3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. All three picks were thrown to Israel Mukuamu in the loss to the Gamecocks.

Fromm has been throwing to a young and inexperienced group of wide receivers. It hasn’t helped that his favorite target, Lawrence Cager, has been playing through a chronic shoulder injury that’s kept him on the sidelines in the second half of UGA’s last two games. Cager has 33 receptions for 476 yards and four TDs.

George Pickens has 30 catches for 400 yards and four TDs, while Blaylock has 14 grabs for 259 yards and four TDs. Demetris Robertson has 23 receptions for 249 yards and three TDs.

Swift has 1,027 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 6.3 yards-per-carry average. Herrien has run for 390 yards and five scores, averaging 5.1 YPC.

UGA is ranked sixth in the nation in total defense, 20th at defending the pass, third in run defense and second in scoring ‘D,’ holding foes to an average of only 10.5 points per game.

Texas A&M (7-3 SU, 6-4 ATS) is a double-digit underdog for the fifth time since Jimbo Fisher arrived in College Station. The Aggies are 3-1 ATS in the four previous instances, including a 24-10 loss at Clemson in Week 2. They took the cash against the Tigers as 17-point underdogs thanks to a TD for the backdoor cover in the final seconds.

Texas A&M is 1-1 SU and 2-0 ATS on the road this year. Fisher’s squad won 24-17 at Ole Miss to cover the number as a six-point road favorite on Oct. 19.

The Aggies are 4-2 in SEC play, losing at home to both Auburn (28-20) and Alabama (47-28). They have SEC wins vs. Arkansas (31-27 at Jerry World in Arlington, TX), vs. Mississippi State (49-30) and South Carolina (30-6).

Texas A&M dominated the Gamecocks, who were playing without star WR Bryan Edwards. The Aggies enjoyed healthy advantages in first downs (27-15), total offense (540-260) and time of possession (41:39-18:21).

Junior QB Kellen Mond completed 20-of-33 passes for 221 yards and one TD without an interception. He also had 47 rushing yards and one TD on 10 attempts. True freshman RB Isaiah Spiller ran for 129 yards on 24 carries, while Cordarrian Richardson turned six totes into 130 rushing yards and one TD.

True freshman tight end Jalen Wydermyer had five receptions for 79 yards, and Quartney Davis had five catches for 48 yards.

Mond has connected on 64.0 percent of his passes for 2,435 yards with an 18/6 TD-INT ratio. He has 400 rushing yards, seven TDs and a 4.3 YPC average. Mond’s favorite target is Jhamon Ausbon, who has 54 receptions for 744 yards and three TDs. Davis has 41 catches for 489 yards and four TDs, while Wydermyer has 24 grabs for 366 yards and a team-best six TDs. Six different Aggies have 20 catches or more.

Spiller has enjoyed a breakout campaign, rushing for 796 yards and eight TDs while averaging 6.0 YPC. Richardson has 232 rushing yards and four TDs on just 25 carries for a 9.3 YPC average.

Texas A&M is ranked No. 25 in the nation in total defense, No. 27 at defending the pass, No. 35 in rush defense and No. 23 in scoring ‘D’ (20.3 PPG). This unit is led by junior LB Buddy Johnson, who has produced 64 tackles, seven TFL’s, three QB hurries, one PBU, one forced fumble, one sack and one fumble return for 62 yards and a touchdown.

After cashing in five straight games, the ‘under’ is 8-2 overall for Georgia. The Bulldogs have seen the ‘under’ go 5-1 in their home games. Their games are averaging combined scores of 42.9 points per game.

Totals have been an overall wash (5-5) for the Aggies, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 2-0 in their road assignments. Fisher’s team had 34 and 41 combined points in those two road outings.

Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Eastern on CBS.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Texas A&M is 3-1 ATS in four games as a road underdog on Fisher’s watch.

-- Georgia has limped to a 9-14 ATS record in 23 games as a home favorite during Smart’s tenure.

-- I was extremely disappointed to see that South Carolina senior WR Bryan ‘Mama Can’t Spell’ Edwards had his knee scoped on Wednesday. The official prognosis is that Edwards is ‘doubtful’ and ‘unlikely’ to play next Saturday’s regular-season finale vs. Clemson, but there’s no way he’s going to be in uniform. Nor should he be, as a bright future on Sundays awaits him. Edwards enjoyed a brilliant collegiate career and is the program’s all-time leader in career receiving yards (ahead of the likes of Sidney Rice, Alshon Jeffery, Kenny McKinley and Sterling Sharpe, just to name a few). Hat tip to the wideout I dubbed ‘Mama Can’t Spell’ four years ago and best wishes to him in the future.

-- Western Kentucky is 40-22-2 in its past 64 games as an underdog. The Hilltoppers are four-point underdogs at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles are undefeated in four home games with a 3-1 spread record.

-- Illinois is 5-1 ATS with three outright victories in six games as a double-digit underdog this year. Lovie Smith’s team clinched its first bowl bid during his tenure in a thrilling 37-34 comeback win at Michigan St. as a 15-point road underdog two weeks ago. The Illini have had two weeks to prepare for Saturday’s game at Iowa. The Hawkeyes are 15-point home ‘chalk’ at most spots. It’s unclear if Illinois star LB Jake Hansen, a Dick Butkus Award semifinalist who missed the win in East Lansing due to an unspecified injury, will play at Iowa. He’s listed as ‘questionable.’ Illinois brings a four-game winning streak to Iowa City and it is also on a 5-0 ATS run.

-- Oklahoma State QB Spencer Sanders had thumb surgery earlier this week and will miss his team’s last two regular-season games. Dru Brown will get the starting nod for Mike Gundy’s squad Saturday at West Virginia. Brown was a two-year starter at Hawaii before transferring to Stillwater, where he’s been relegated to back-up duty. However, Brown has a 40/15 TD-INT ratio.

-- According to a report from Matt Hayes, former Auburn QB Joey Gatewood will visit Florida in early December. He has already visited Kentucky, and several other schools like LSU and Oregon are expected to be in the mix for the former four-star recruit.

-- The Westgate SuperBook released its look-ahead lines for Rivalry Weekend on Monday. Although star QB Tua Tagovailoa is out for the rest of the season with a dislocated hip that required surgery earlier this week in Houston, Alabama is still a 2.5-point road favorite at Auburn in the Iron Bowl. For the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving night, Mississippi State is a 1.5-point home favorite vs. Ole Miss. Other Week 14 spread include Florida -21 vs. FSU, Georgia -30.5 at Georgia Tech, Ohio Sate. -13 at Michigan, Virginia -4.5 vs. Virginia Tech, UNC -7.5 at N.C. State, Washington -9.5 vs. Washington State, Oklahoma -15.5 at Oklahoma State, LSU -17.5 vs. Texas A&M and Oregon -21.5 vs. Oregon State.

-- In case you missed it earlier this week, Vanderbilt AD Malcolm Turner took to Twitter to publicly announce that head football coach Derek Mason will be back in 2020. As I’ve been saying all year, there should be a rule that Vandy can’t fire its head football coach if he has beaten Tennessee three times in a row. In Mason’s case, he’s beaten the Vols three straight times by double-digit margins. The Commodores are 20-point road underdogs at UT next week.

-- LSU LB Michael Divinity has returned to the team and has practiced this week. Divinity took a leave from the team during its open date ahead of the Alabama game. He was leading the team in sacks at the time. He can’t play again, however, unless the Tigers make it the CFP finals. Divinity must serve a four-game suspension for reportedly testing positive for marijuana.

-- Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan hasn’t been cleared to play at Northwestern yet. Morgan is in concussion protocol after getting injured in last week’s 23-19 loss at Iowa. Northwestern QB Aidan Smith has been downgraded to ‘doubtful’ against the Gophers. Hunter Johnson, the former five-star recruit who transferred from Clemson, isn’t even listed on the depth chart this week. According to a report a few weeks ago, Johnson has been spending time away from the team with his family as his mother courageously battles cancer. If Smith can’t go, look for Andrew Marty to get his first career start for the Wildcats, who ended a seven-game losing streak by dropping UMass 45-6 last week.

-- According to a report out of State College, Penn State starting center Michael Menet is ‘out’ at Ohio State with an undisclosed injury.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards



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