South Carolina football is heading west this weekend.
The Gamecocks travel to College Station, Texas for their annual reunion with the Texas A&M Aggies from the West Division of the Southeastern Conference on Saturday.
Shane Beamer earned his first SEC victory as USC head coach in a 21-20 game against Vanderbilt last Saturday. The Gamecocks featured players who hadn’t seen the pitch since the game against Georgia, highlighted by the return of running back ZaQuandre White and quarterback Zeb Noland.
Noland paved the way for South Carolina to win in the final two minutes of the game, leading a 75-yard touchdown to clinch a victory after falling 17-0 in the second, third and majority of the fourth quarter.
Texas A&M fell short of their high expectations for the preseason in early 2021, falling to Arkansas and Mississippi State while adjusting to quarterback Zach Calzada, who replaced the starter Haynes King after injuring himself early in Week 2. But the Aggies rebounded in their then-Upset 41-38 blockbuster-No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 9 and a solid 35-14 win over Missouri last week.
Texas A&M has an arsenal of attacking talent behind pair Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane and talented receivers Ainias Smith and Jalen Wydermyer. Head coach Jimbo Fisher has this year’s Aggies, and South Carolina will face them in a round.
The Gamecocks have never beaten Texas A&M, going 0-7 since they first met in 2014. South Carolina was strangled by the Aggies last year in Colombia, losing 48-3 to a balanced offensive attack led by former A&M quarterback Kellen Mond.
How to watch the South Carolina vs Texas A&M football game
Who: South Carolina Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3 SEC) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (5-2, 2-2 SEC)
Or: Kyle Field in College Station, Texas
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
TV: SEC Network
This week’s SEC betting odds, TV hours
South Carolina opened a 19-point underdog at Texas A&M, with the line remaining stable in most sports betting on Sunday. The Gamecocks failed to cover a high 18.5-point gap against Vanderbilt last week.
- Noon: Arkansas-Pine Bluff to Arkansas – no line
- 3:30 p.m .: LSU at Ole Miss (-12)
- 4 p.m .: Mississippi State (-23) at Vanderbilt
- 7 p.m .: Tennessee, Alabama (-27)
- 7:30 p.m .: South Carolina to Texas A&M (-19)
The state of the Gamecocks
South Carolina made a quarterback change. Shane Beamer announced on his teleconference Sunday that Zeb Noland would get the start against Texas A&M as Luke Doty treated an injured foot.
Doty started against Vanderbilt but was inconsistent, with 17 of 26 for 242 yards, two touchdowns and two untimely interceptions, while Noland walked for the last drive and completed 5 of 8 passes for 75 yards and the winning touchdown.
Beamer said Doty’s foot, who was injured during the preseason, started bothering him late in the game against Vanderbilt, so the Gamecocks opted for a healthy Noland, recovering from his hand injury. suffered against Georgia. Noland appeared to reinvigorate the offense after things got stale.
The Gamecocks offense is still striving for consistent success after getting off to a good early start against the Commodores, but struggling after the opening 10 minutes of last Saturday’s game. The South Carolina offense only racked up 165 yards between its first two touchdowns and final possession under Noland.
The penalties returned to South Carolina against Vandy, with the Gamecocks totaling 10 for 78 yards lost. South Carolina also experienced turnovers last week, relinquishing the ball four times with two fumbles and two interceptions.
The State of Texas A&M Aggies
Texas A&M had a rough start in conference but rebounded after knocking down Alabama in Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban’s first loss to former assistant Texas A&M head coach , Jimbo Fisher.
The Aggies are starting to click offensively, a major concern in the losses to Arkansas and Mississippi State as well as their narrow victory over a struggling Colorado team. A&M found the chemistry with quarterback Zach Calzada, who was pushed into action after losing his preseason starting job, and started to gain traction in conference with wins over the Crimson Tide and Missouri.
The Texas A&M defense is a force, ranked second in the SEC in points allowed and 14th in the country. The Aggies are averaging 16.4 points per game. When choosing to return the kickoffs, the Aggies are formidable and lead the conference with an average of 43.6 yards per return. That score includes a 96-yard return kickoff for a touchdown by running back Devon Achane against Alabama.
3 Texas A&M players to watch
Isaiah Spiller, RB: Spiller is the SEC’s third rusher in 2021 with 659 yards on 105 carries and four touchdowns. He totaled another 159 yards and one touchdown on 18 receptions this year. A three-year veteran of the Aggies’ offense, Spiller has already amassed 2,641 rushing yards during his college career and finished with a record 168 yards on 20 touches in last week’s victory over Missouri.
Zach Calzada, QB: Texas A&M’s offense was not Calzada’s at the start of the season, but he went through difficulties early on to become an impressive newcomer. The runner-up played his best under pressure against Alabama, completing 21 of 31 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Aggies’ win over the Crimson Tide. He completed 56% of his passes in 2021 for 1,177 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Demani Richardson, DB: Richardson is another Aggie veteran who has found success midway through this season. The junior defensive back had his best performances in 2021 in A&M’s last two games, finishing both Alabama and Missouri games with seven tackles each. Richardson also offered a clutch interception on the Aggies’ one-yard line against Alabama’s Bryce Young on Oct.9.
This story was originally published October 18, 2021 5:00 a.m.