No. 5 Texas A&M loses QB Haynes King and scores late to beat Colorado 10-7

No. 5 Texas A&M loses QB Haynes King and scores late to beat Colorado 10-7

Texas A&M needed over 57 minutes to score a touchdown.

Isaiah Spiller caught an 18-yard TD pass from Zach Calzada with 2:41 left to give Texas A&M the lead for the first time all day against Colorado and a 10-7 win over the Buffaloes in Denver on Saturday.

A&M struggled offensively for most of the day with and without starting QB Haynes King. He left the game in the first half with a left-leg injury and didn’t return. He was seen on the sideline with a boot on his left foot and on crutches.

Calzada came in and worked hard to find his touch and accuracy. But he made some big throws in the second half and the Aggies did just enough to win.

A&M needed that Spiller TD after Calzada thought he had scored a go-ahead TD earlier in the fourth quarter. But he fumbled just inches from the goal line.

The play was initially ruled a TD but it was clear on replay that Calzada had fumbled just before the ball would have crossed the plane.

Colorado’s chance to tie or take the lead after A&M’s go-ahead touchdown went nowhere. Brendon Lewis completed a fourth-down pass to Dimitri Stanley but he was stopped two yards short of the sticks and A&M was able to run out the clock from there.

Aggies defense shines

Both defenses deserve a ton of credit for the way they played on Saturday. Yeah, the offensive execution wasn’t great, but that was partially due to the performance of the defenses. Neither team had more than 300 yards of offense.

A&M’s defense especially clamped down after Colorado scored in the first quarter. The Aggies held the Buffs on a fourth down at the 5-yard-line in the second quarter and held Colorado to just one first down in the second half.

The Buffs had the ball six times in the final 30 minutes. The offense ran a combined 21 plays over those five drives — the longest drive was a five-play possession that covered 24 yards.

A&M turns to its RBs in the pass game

King completed one pass before he left the game and Calzada was 18-of-38 for 183 yards. Just six of their 19 completions went to wide receivers. Nine, meanwhile, went to running backs Spiller and Devon Achane.

A&M struggled to run the ball against the Buffaloes all day. The Aggies had 29 carries for 98 yards. That forced coach Jimbo Fisher to get his running backs involved in different ways and both provided extremely meaningful contributions as receivers. Achane had three catches for 24 yards and Spiller had six catches for 56 yards.

What’s the Aggies’ ceiling?

A&M could conceivably stay in the top five after the game because of Ohio State’s loss to Oregon. But it’s hard to decipher what the team’s ceiling is, especially without knowing the severity of King’s injury. If he’s out a while, the offense will have to revolve around Calzada firing fastballs and a running game that’s much more efficient than it was against the Buffaloes.

And even if the running game had just a short-term blip on Saturday, it’s hard to see how this offense is capable of hanging with Alabama or keeping up in a shootout with a team like Ole Miss if the defense doesn’t clamp down on the Rebels’ offense. A&M’s chances at being a legitimate threat to win the SEC West and challenge for the College Football Playoff may ultimately hinge on King’s prognosis.