If there’s one thing that fans should expect from Friday’s Texas Bowl it’s that, given prior postseason performances, Oklahoma State will be at its best and ready for Texas A&M.
And that means a whole lot of trouble for the Aggies.
The game, which features two former Big 12 Conference opponents, will kick off at 6:45 p.m. ET (ESPN) at NRG Stadium in Houston.
The 25th-ranked Cowboys (8-4) have been lights out in bowl games under coach Mike Gundy, winning three straight and seven of their past nine. Oklahoma State also comes into the game with four wins in its past five games, but on the heels of a 34-16 loss to then-No. 7 Oklahoma in its season finale.
Oklahoma State is entering its 14th straight bowl game. Quarterback Spencer Sanders led the offense with 2,065 passing yards and 16 touchdown passes this season but missed the final two games after undergoing thumb surgery.
Gundy said this week that Sanders and backup Dru Brown both would play in the bowl game.
“Practices have gone good,” Gundy said. “We’ve got Spencer out there and he’s back to full speed. Dru is out there, he’s full speed. We’re starting to get some guys out there going and getting back to a normal routine. I would fully expect both players to play in the game.”
Running back Chuba Hubbard led the nation with 1,936 rushing yards and also had 21 rushing touchdowns. A redshirt sophomore, Hubbard likely is playing his final college game and will be a force to be reckoned with for the Aggies’ defense.
Braydon Johnson will have to emerge as the Cowboys’ top receiver without Tylan Wallace, who went down with a torn ACL in November.
Texas A&M carries a 7-5 overall record but lost its final two games of the season. The Aggies have not missed a bowl game since their first season under Mike Sherman in 2008. Coach Jimbo Fisher will lead the team at its 41st bowl appearance overall.
Texas A&M faced one of the hardest schedules in the country this season, playing three teams that were either ranked No.1 at the time or finished the season at No. 1 (Clemson, Alabama, LSU). They faced five teams that were ranked in the top 10, and three of those five games were on the road (Clemson, Georgia, LSU).
The Aggies have not beaten a team with a winning record this season, and only one of their wins was against a team playing in a bowl game this postseason (Mississippi State).
Junior quarterback Kellen Mond leads the offense with 2,802 passing yards and 19 touchdown passes. Fisher said Mond has just scratched the surface of what he potentially can do.
“He’s understanding the leadership role, running, throwing all the things that have to happen,” Fisher said. “In quarterbacking (there) are so many things that you’ve got to go through and experience. He learns after each and every one.”
Isaiah Spiller leads the Aggies with 869 rushing yards and nine rushing touchdowns. Jhamon Ausbon is the Aggies’ leading receiver with 65 catches for 862 yards and four touchdowns this season.
Fisher announced Monday that running back Cordarrian Richardson will be out of the Texas Bowl for undisclosed reasons. Richardson was not suspended and remains part of the team.
“He’s not here,” Fisher said after the team’s first practice in Houston. “He’s just not here with us now.”
The two teams last played in 2011 when they were Big 12 South brothers, with Oklahoma State winning 30-29. The Cowboys’ four-match win streak against the Aggies marks their longest in the history of the series.
This will be the 28th matchup between the two schools. Texas A&M holds the lead in the series with 17 wins.
–Field Level Media