COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Coming off a nine-win season and a victory in the Gator Bowl, No. 11 Texas A&M has plenty of reasons for optimism as it hosts Texas State in its 2019 season opener on Thursday. The Aggies suffered early-season losses to Clemson and Alabama in 2018 before rebounding to win seven of their final nine games with some massive point totals down the stretch.
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Texas A&M -34.5
In their final three games last season, the Aggies scored 41, 74 and 52 points (although, in fairness, the 74-point effort came in a seven-overtime affair against LSU.) Junior quarterback Kellen Mond is back under center with the watchful eye of coach Jimbo Fisher never far away. "I know Jimbo is always going to be hard on me," Mond said recently. "I'm always going to have praise for myself, but I'm also going to be my biggest critic. If he's critiquing me, I'm always the first one to it, just knowing what I did wrong. I feel like that's where we can go back and forth. I feel like I earn respect from coach Fisher and he earns respect from me." On the other side of the ball, Texas A&M will once again rely on a rushing defense that yielded 95.2 yards per game in 2018 -- third-best in the nation.
ABOUT TEXAS STATE (2018: 3-9)
New Bobcats coach Jake Spavital is a former assistant for Texas A&M, serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2013-15. At Texas State, he inherits a team that only won 10 total games over the previous four seasons. Tyler Vitt, a sophomore, returns at quarterback for the Bobcats after tossing seven touchdowns with 10 interceptions in nine games (seven starts) a year ago.
ABOUT TEXAS A&M (2018: 9-4)
In addition to having thrown for 3,107 yards and 24 touchdowns last season, Mond is also the team's top returning rusher (474 yards, seven scores). Quartney Davis caught 45 balls for 585 yards for the 2018 Aggies, including seven catches for 101 yards and two scores in the wild seven-OT win against LSU. Texas A&M trounced North Carolina State 52-13 in the Gator Bowl behind star running back Trayveon Williams (now with the Cincinnati Bengals), who rushed for 236 yards and three scores.
1. Texas A&M led the SEC in time of possession last season (34:34).
2. Fisher is 8-1 all-time in season openers.
3. The teams have met twice previously with Texas State giving Texas A&M a battle in a 44-31 setback in 2005.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 55, Texas State 13