SEC INSIDER

No. 12 Texas A&M not looking past Texas State

Field Level Media

August 25, 2019 at 7:52 pm.

Texas A&M will be flying high as it opens its second season with coach Jimbo Fisher at the helm against Texas State on Thursday in College Station, Texas.

The 12th-ranked Aggies are heavily favored to beat their in-state opponent, but they must maintain their focus for the schedule ahead — particularly a Week 2 matchup at top-ranked Clemson.

The opener against Texas State has added juice because the Aggies haven’t gone into a season ranked in the Top 25 since 2014. And then there’s the gauntlet Texas A&M will face this year — with games against defending national champ Clemson, at home against Auburn, Alabama and South Carolina, and on the road versus LSU and Georgia.

There can be no mistaking the importance of every game for the Aggies. Fisher said last week that he has no concern that his team is overlooking Texas State.

“I don’t see it — I promise you that,” Fisher said. “We haven’t talked about Clemson one time.

“You want to see how your players interact in the game, how you function as a unit, how you compete in a game,” he added. “Your opponent doesn’t matter. What matters is yourself. Who you play does not matter — I know people don’t believe that, but it’s the truth.”

Fisher’s first season at Texas A&M was a success on and off the field. The Aggies’ 9-4 campaign in 2018 ended with four straight wins and was highlighted by a seven-overtime victory over LSU. A&M built on its momentum by signing a top-five recruiting class and enters this season with swagger and confidence.

The last time A&M football had this kind of national appeal was when Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy in 2012, a year the Aggies capped a magical 11-2 season with a trouncing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

Some college football insiders expect the Aggies to be potential spoilers this season, not contenders, because they play their toughest schedule in two decades. That’s a notion Fisher refutes.

“We expect to play with them and compete with them and win those games,” Fisher said. “That’s why we’re here.”

Texas State, a member of the Sun Belt Conference, heads into the 2019 season off a 3-9 campaign and with Jake Spavital taking over as a head coach for the first time.

Spavital spent three seasons in College Station as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2013), when the Aggies, under Manziel, went 9-4 and won the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2014-15).

Spavital, who followed up his time at A&M with stints at Texas Tech and West Virginia, said there’s plenty to gain for a hungry Texas State program while playing a nationally televised game in front of 100,000 screaming fans.

“That’s one of the best places to play a college football game,” Spavital said. “It’s an opportunity for us to start branding our university and get our kids out here and competing at a high level.”

The Bobcats have lost 38 of 48 games the past four seasons.

Texas State named sophomore Tyler Vitt the starting quarterback for the opener against Texas A&M. Vitt played in nine games for the Bobcats last season and started seven. He threw for 1,159 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions as Texas State lost all nine games in which he appeared.

Thursday’s clash is the third meeting between the schools, as Texas A&M owns a 2-0 all-time record against the Bobcats. The two teams faced off for the first time almost 100 years ago on Oct. 3, 1919, as the Aggies posted a 28-0 win in College Station. The most recent matchup was on Sept. 22, 2005, a 44-31 triumph in a game moved up to Thursday due to Hurricane Rita.