No. 5 LSU fell to Texas A&M 38-23 Saturday night in one of the most shocking results of the rivalry week. The defeat in College Station, Texas, was the Tigers’ third of the season, ruining any chances they had of making it to the College Football Playoff despite entering the game as a first-of-four team.
The Aggies have owned this competition from the start. Star running back Devon Acane scored from 10 yards out to cap off a 10-play, 90-yard drive midway through the first quarter that gave Texas A&M a lead it never relinquished. Achane rushed for 211 yards and scored two touchdowns in an amazing effort that would likely be the junior’s last game with the program.
LSU RB John Emery Jr. scored. His second touchdown of the game to draw him even at 17 early in the third quarter, but any momentum the Tigers gained quickly disappeared when defensive back Demani Richardson returned a fumble from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels 27 yards for a go-ahead score. Aggies QB Conner Weigman hit Moose Muhammad III for 21 yards on the first play of the fourth quarter to make it a two-score game, and Achane directed his second touchdown run on the next possession to build a 21-point lead.
LSU fought back to make it a 15-point game late in the fourth quarter, but WR Jaray Jenkins was unable to pull off a pass from Daniels in the back of the end zone on fourth-and-14 with 2:37 remaining. Achane finished off the Tigers on the next Aggies possession to put the game away.
LSU’s defense should be embarrassing
The Tigers have been relatively solid defensively all year. They entered the game giving up just 340.3 yards per game and 20 points per game. Linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. appeared. As a star in the making, coach Brian Kelly has given fans hope that he will be the foundation of the program for years to come. Then came Texas A&M University.
The most points a Texas A&M team scored in any game this year was 31, and it came in a Week 1 shutout of Sam Houston. Texas A&M matched that record with 14:54 to play in the fourth quarter. The Aggies averaged 355 yards per game, and put up 429 against the Tigers. On what planet would any of this make sense? Earth, it seems.
Texas A&M needed this win
It was a miserable, miserable season in College Station, Texas. The Aggies were picked to second in the SEC West by voters at SEC Media Days in July, but fell flat on their faces before the cards changed colors. They lost star Aeneas Smith to a season-ending injury in late September, lost their two best quarterbacks prior to November and his offensive line couldn’t muster him for the majority of the season. Things changed on Saturday.
Freshman Moss Muhammad III caught five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown, lauded freshman receiver Evan Stewart added four passes for 42 yards, and Weigman, a true freshman signal caller who was pushed into action in early November, completed 67% of his passes in the season. Two downward effort.
This gives Texas A&M hope for the future. It wouldn’t be the kind of hope that guarantees a national title prospect or even hope that a division title is within reach. But it is renewing a bit of hope in an offense that has been stagnant all season under coach Jimbo Fisher.
LSU just couldn’t handle the pressure
It’s as if LSU’s identity completely changed once it beat Alabama. Sure, the SEC West clinched the following week, but that team seemed to be in a scare from the get-go in a pretty sloppy 13-10 win over a mediocre Arkansas team. He followed it up with a win over UAB, which didn’t matter much. Against Texas A&M, it seemed to be in a panic again.
From the moment Achane scored to give Texas A&M a 7-0 lead, it looked like the pressure was too much for LSU to handle. The Tigers looked sloppy and uninspired and played not to lose rather than play to win. It was a complete 180-degree change from the team that played fast and loose in the overtime win over Alabama, coming back from a 17-point deficit at Auburn and nearly coming back from 14 down in the fourth quarter against Florida State in the opener. before the blocked extra point that ended her chance at a comeback.
Simply put, LSU couldn’t handle the goal on its back, and it showed up against the Aggies.
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