How far did the Aggies go in ESPN’s 64-team college football playoff?
Stepping outside of reality for a second, imagine a world where the college football postseason was an exact replica of the 64-game NCAA Tournament college basketball graces us every March, and even though the forces that be will never let anything like this happen, at least we do know that the playoff will be expanding to 12 teams during the 2024 season and beyond.
ESPN Senior Writer Chris Low had some fun with the idea this week, following the exact same college basketball format with 16 seeds and four “first four out” for the 2023 college football season, as Texas A&M received a four seed, and faced the 13-seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the opening round. Alas, Bobby Petrino revived the Aggies’ anemic 2022 offense to become one of the more consistent units in the country, and apparently continued into the playoff against the Mountaineers, winning 31-20:
“Bobby Petrino’s stamp on Texas A&M’s offense is obvious from the beginning of the season. The Aggies are more consistent, more balanced and able to finish games. Sophomore quarterback Conner Weigman grows each week in Petrino’s offense and plays a mistake-free game in the win over West Virginia.”
Moving on to the quarterfinals, The Aggies would face a bigger challenge against high-flying UCLA, as the battle of offensive gurus in Bruins Head coach Chip Kelly and Bobby Petrino had the potential to light up the scoreboard, Texas A&M’s defense took control early, while the Aggies offense scored 30 plus points for their second straight game, winning 35-21:
“Texas A&M fans were restless after a losing season in 2022, and the grumbling was only getting louder. But Jimbo Fisher and the Aggies ease a lot of those concerns with their second straight convincing win in the tournament and their second straight game in which the defense is dominant in the second half.”
On to the Sweet 16, they go to face the one-seed Ohio State Buckeyes in the biggest game in recent program history if we were living in reality, but as they say, all good things come to an end. Texas A&M’s high-scoring offense and “bend but don’t break” defensive effort throughout the tournament finally succumbed to Ohio State’s deep running back unit, unable to go to toe late in the game, ending their 2023 season with a 40-31 loss in the semifinal round:
“Ohio State’s defensive secondary play has received its share of heat the past couple of seasons, and the Buckeyes again give up too many big plays in the passing game. The Texas A&M combination of Conner Weigman-to-Ainias Smith is especially effective, and Smith does a lot of his damage after the catch. The Buckeyes are able to withstand the Aggies’ offensive onslaught with a running game that wears down Texas A&M’s defense with a rotation that goes four deep.”
As fun as that simulation was in predicting just how good the Aggies can be next season if everything clicks early on, the Jimbo Fisher-Bobby Petrino play-calling issues need to be ironed out this spring if a Conner Weigman-led offense is truly going to live up to its incredible potential.
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