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Hykeem Williams is the story behind the story this week at Texas A&M. That’s because it is impossible to split Williams — a coveted wide receiver in the Class of 2023 — in two. Williams, a five-star prospect from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is making an unofficial visit to College Station, Texas, this week with No. 13 Miami (FL) coming to town.
Among his top five are Alabama, Georgia and Pittsburgh … as well as the Aggies and Hurricanes, who are conveniently battling it out Saturday at Kyle Field. Williams is supposed to make his decision within a week. It might be too simple to suggest his decision rests on the result of the game, but recruiting never sleeps.
Jimbo Fisher has proved that in his fifth year at Texas A&M. At the same time, it seems much of the Aggies program has nodded off.
Fisher’s seat is getting significantly warmer after an inexplicable home loss to Appalachian State. No, he’s not going to be fired in the near term, but Aggie Nation is starting to grumble.
The school and its boosters didn’t pay all that guaranteed money for … this. Aggies everywhere are wrapped in a ball of confusion. Even if Texas A&M wanted to fire Fisher, it would have to wait until 2026 to owe him less than $50 million. One prominent attorney in the Southeast took his shot on Twitter.
So did others. Fisher has to own it. You don’t get all those millions and lose to App State. Ever. But watching the film from last week, the base conclusion was a lack of preparation and effort. Texas A&M was an 18-point favorite. It should have been warned about App State after watching it score 61 on North Carolina.
The Mountaineers went out and held the ball for 41 minutes, limiting the Aggies to 186 total yards. App State’s running backs turned the corner on elite SEC defenders.
But these being college kids, well, they’re not robots. There were dropped passes by Texas A&M receivers. Pass interference penalties on consecutive plays. The Aggies scored one offensive touchdown against a defense that had just given up 63 to UNC.
Texas A&M actually lost twice to App State. ESPN’s “College GameDay” shifted to the Mountaineers’ campus for this week’s against Troy instead of visiting College Station.
In short, the Aggies didn’t show up. It happens. Ask Notre Dame and Marcus Freeman. Undetermined is how much time Fisher will have to fix it.
In Year 5, the results have been underwhelming: two second-place finishes in the SEC West, one New Year’s Six bowl game, one big win over Alabama that ended up not meaning much. The Aggies are 5-3 since that triumph on Oct. 9, 2021. Through 50 games, Fisher (35-15) is one game better than the guy he replaced, Kevin Sumlin (34-16).
What might be most disturbing is the quarterback play. Fisher inherited career passing leader Kellen Mond. The backup that beat Alabama, Zach Calzada, is now in the same role at Auburn. Sophomore Haynes King has been substandard. Don’t be surprised if LSU transfer Max Johnson gets a look if things go south against the Canes.
Fisher was hired by Texas A&M as the national championship coach of a Heisman Trophy winner (Jameis Winston). If he’s smart, he will soon begin selling the future.
That’s where Williams comes in. We can wring our hands about the Aggies’ disappointing start, but everything is about recruiting. Fisher landed what was described as the earlier this year. Some of those guys will have to play as true freshmen.
Whether they do or not remains to be seen, but they will be expected to contribute in 2023 and 2024. Imagine Williams and his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame in the mix. Fisher must remind Aggies of that while stiff-arming the current situation.
Texas A&M must show well Saturday to avoid starting 1-2. Mostly, it must show Williams he should be a part of what is going on in College Station.
Georgia may actually be better: Until lately, the primary conversation surrounding the now-No. 1 Bulldogs is whether they could play to the level they did last season when winning the program’s first national title in four decades. Consider that conversation changed. The Dawgs open SEC play at South Carolina giving up just 1.5 points per game through two weeks. Georgia (-24.5) has covered in its last three visits to Columbia, South Carolina. And yes, quarterback Stetson Bennett is a serious Heisman Trophy candidate.
Oklahoma-Nebraska has become must watch: This is Nebraska‘s first game since Scott Frost’s firing. Interim coach Mickey Joseph really, really, really wants the job. The players love him, and he’s a great recruiter, but this could get complicated. Joseph’s only head coaching experience was with Langston, a small NAIA school in Oklahoma (2011-12). If Nebraska wins Saturday, goes on a run and gets to a bowl game (all it takes is 6-6), how do you deny Joseph serious consideration?
Further complicating matters is the presence of Urban Meyer. He once confessed to touring the campus “in disguise” to drink in the game-day atmosphere. If it weren’t for, well, everything, he’d be an ideal replacement. It’s doubtful Nebraska ever hires him, but the entire scene is going to be over the top as Meyer will be on campus with Fox in Lincoln, Nebraska.
In what used to be called the Big Eight, these two teams played for its championship in this game every year from the early 1970s to the late 1980s. No. 6 Oklahoma (-11) may be a significant favorite, but its line has come down a full touchdown from -17 since Frost’s firing.
CFP for BYU? The No. 12 Cougars are officially College Football Playoff bait after their big win against No. 17 Baylor. BYU’s schedule definitely gives it a chance to get into the top four. If Baylor keeps winning, that supports the BYU case, which could also include wins Saturday at No. 25 Oregon, at Stanford, at Boise State and against Notre Dame (in Las Vegas). Oregon’s Bo Nix is 3-11 as a starter against top 15 teams with eight career touchdown passes to go with 13 interceptions.
There’s a reason for state nepotism laws: Iowa enters Week 3 last 131st (last in the FBS) in total offense. You probably know that third-grade youth soccer teams are averaging more points than the Hawkeyes (seven). You’re way ahead of me if you’re questioning the line this week against Nevada. Iowa is a 23.5-point favorite with an offense that has scored a total of 14 points in two games.
Coach Kirk Ferentz goes into that game having made few, if any, changes to the offensive starters on the depth chart. That includes quarterback Spencer Petras (45% completions, 3.9 yards per attempt). Fifty-five qualifying FBS running backs in NCAA statistics have a better yards per carry average than Petras does yards per pass. It should be noted Ferentz has yet to make a change at offensive coordinator, either. His son, Brian Ferentz, leads that unit.
Had to clip this from today’s @Cover3Podcast
The Ferentz family should send a gift basket to College Station for overshadowing the nepotistic grift they are running on offense at Iowa. pic.twitter.com/rQjT5Sc157
Irish eyes are tearing up: Isn’t California better than Marshall, especially with a defense that is allowing one more point (27) than Notre Dame gave up last week (26)? Are we to assume the Fighting Irish offense will be humming with backup quarterback Drew Pyne (39 career passes) subbing for injured Tyler Buchner? North Carolina, BYU and Stanford are next. The Irish may be looking at 2-4 halfway through the season, at best.
Fresno State referendum: No. 7 USC at Oregon State on Sept. 24 is shaping up as the first big Pac-12 showdown of the season. The Beavers (vs. Montana State) won just their 19th nonconference road game ever at Fresno State. The baton is handed to USC, which hosts the Bulldogs this week. The Trojans are on the verge of greatness as one of 12 teams yet to turn the ball over. But to maintain a belief in their potential, they will have to stop looking like Oklahoma under Lincoln Riley. In pummeling Stanford last week, USC gave up 441 yards and committed 109 yards in penalties.
Suggestions for Bobby Petrino’s return to Arkansas: (1) The Missouri State coach could enter Razorback Stadium on a loud, speeding Harley-Davidson, much the same as Oregon’s Puddles does at Autzen Stadium. (2) Arkansas chould sign a game sponsor for neck braces. Anyway … Until the recent uptick with Sam Pittman, No. 10 Arkansas has taken much of the last decade to rebound from Petrino’s shenanigans. The first coach to win 11 games for the Razorbacks in 34 years is also responsible for sending the program into a spiral that saw it produce only three winning seasons from 2012-21.
Quick Kicks: As long as the Nebraska job is open, might as well add to the list of candidates App State’s Shawn Clark, 21-8 in his fourth season. If he can win with three-star players in the mountains of North Carolina, think what he could do with that Big Ten recruiting money … No. 1 (Alabama) dropped out of that position in the AP Top 25 with the team it beat (Texas) moving into the rankings for the first time since 1997. Back then, Nebraska dropped from No. 1 to No. 3 after beating Missouri, which moved in at No. 25, in overtime … only eight FBS teams have yet to force a turnover. Alabama and Notre Dame are two of them. … Those betting on the first 500-yard passing game and 200-yard rushing performance this season, keep holding onto those tickets. Through 276 games this season, there have been zero such games by an individual.
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