Since the SEC expanded to 14 teams in 2012, the only matchup the conference hasn’t seen is Texas A&M and Georgia. That will end this Saturday as the No. 4 Bulldogs will play Texas A&M for the first time since 2009.
In that meeting, the Bulldogs blew out the Aggies 44-20 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. But now Texas A&M will make the trip to Athens for the first time since 1980, a year Georgia fans remember as the last time the program won the national championship.
Although it’s been some time since it last met Texas A&M, Georgia is treating this one just like every other game.
“They’re another team in the way of what we’re trying to get to,” Georgia linebacker Tae Crowder said.
Instead, the Georgia defense is occupied trying to iron out some issues that were exposed against Auburn last week. After shutting the Tigers out for three quarters, the second-best scoring defense in the Football Bowl Subdivision surrendered 14 points in three minutes.
That fourth quarter performance is something the defense hasn’t ignored this week in practice.
“We just want to fix the things that we didn’t do a good job of last week,” Crowder said. “We relaxed in the fourth quarter, and they hit us on a few plays.”
There won’t be room for Georgia to relax this week. The Aggies’ offense is the fourth-highest scoring in the SEC, due in large part to dual-threat quarterback Kellen Mond. He is second on the team in rushing yards with 536 through 10 games and ranks third in the SEC in passing yards behind Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa.
Combined with a pair of talented running backs in Isaiah Spiller and Cordarrian Richardson, Mond leads an explosive split-back attack that head coach Jimbo Fisher is famous for.
“Can it create problems for you? Yes,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said. “With a running quarterback back there, it almost creates a wishbone. They do a great job with that, and it’s something we’re working on because we know they’ll be able to use it.”
The Aggies’ run game has been growing exponentially. Their rushing yards have increased in five straight games, rushing for 340 yards last time out against South Carolina.
“They’re committed to the run game,” Smart said. “Their rushing yards have increased every week for five straight games. That’s pretty incredible when you’re talking about the SEC.”
But Georgia possesses one of the best run defenses in college football, allowing just 75.5 yards per game on average. With a rivalry matchup against 2-8 Georgia Tech the following week, Georgia will be presented with its last real test of the regular season against the Aggies.