Jimbo Fisher's debut season has the Aggies hosting Clemson and playing both Alabama and Auburn on the road
The Texas A&M Aggies take the field in 2018 with a new look on offense and defense under the guidance of former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. The Aggies are still expected to light up the scoreboard under Fisher with a high-octane offense, but are now expected to challenge blue bloods like Alabama, Auburn, and LSU in the SEC West for titles and an annual spot in the conference championship game. The way the 2018 schedule lines up, Fisher and the Aggies will have to be in top form to accomplish any of these lofty goals.
Last season’s schedule had Texas A&M playing eight of its 13 games in Texas. This fall, the Aggies will play nine games in the Lone Star State, including a highly anticipated matchup with Clemson, but will be making a pair of road trips to Alabama to play the Crimson Tide and Tigers. These three games could determine just how successful Fisher’s debut ends up being.
Texas A&M Aggies 2018 Schedule
Bye: Week 8
Week 1 – Aug. 30 vs. Northwestern State (College Station, Texas)
Cupcake city for the Aggies. Northwestern State posted a 4-7 season in 2017 falling 52-24 to Louisiana Tech in the season opener, their only game against a FBS program. The Demons have not made the FCS playoffs since the 2004 season. This should serve as a nice tune-up game for Texas A&M before the showdown with Clemson.
Week 2 – Sept. 8 vs. Clemson (College Station, Texas)
Clemson got the best of Jimbo Fisher in 2017, beating Florida State 31-14. Fisher knows the Tigers well, and will have revenge on his mind, but will he have his roster gelled by Week 2? Clemson went 2-1 against SEC teams in 2017, downing Auburn and South Carolina before losing to Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal (24-6).
The 12th Man is looking for the team’s first win against a visiting non-conference Power 5 team since a 31-24 overtime victory over UCLA to open the 2016 season.
Week 3 – Sept. 15 vs. ULM (College Station, Texas)
FSU trounced ULM 42-10 in the 2017 regular-season finale in Doak Campbell Stadium. ULM presents an opportunity for the Aggies to regroup if needed and refocus for another national title contender come Week 4.
Week 4 – Sept. 22 at Alabama (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
The A&M vs. Bama showdown pits former boss, Nick Saban, vs. pupil, Jimbo Fisher. Saban hired Fisher as his coordinator at LSU and the two national championship-winning coaches have faced each other just once previously. Saban’s Crimson Tide handled Fisher’s Seminoles 24-7 in Atlanta to open last season.
Texas A&M’s last win in Tuscaloosa came in 2012. Can Fisher put an end to five years of disappointment?
Week 5 – Sept. 29 vs. Arkansas (AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas)
If former head coach Kevin Sumlin did anything well during his time in College Station it was beating Arkansas. The Aggies enter this season riding a six-game winning streak over the Razorbacks. Of Fisher’s first five games, this one might be the most important in terms of getting things started on the right note. Arkansas also has a new coach at the helm in Chad Morris, adding even more intrigue to this rivalry game.
The boo-birds could start popping up in the stands if Fisher can’t maintain the streak against the Hogs coupled with losses to Clemson and Alabama.
Week 6 – Oct. 6 vs. Kentucky (College Station, Texas)
Over the past five years, the Wildcats have been that proverbial team seemingly ready to turn the corner under head coach Mark Stoops, but just have not been able to do so. Last season, Kentucky went 7-6, including a 4-4 mark in the SEC. The Wildcats lost both of their cross-division games, falling to Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
This will be the first meeting between the schools since a home-and-away series in 1952-53.
Week 7 – Oct. 13 at South Carolina (Columbia, S.C.)
Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp has built South Carolina into a team few want to face. The Aggies escaped last year’s meeting, winning 24-17 at home. Whichever team wins this game should gain some vital momentum to tackle the second half of their schedule.
Week 9 – Oct. 27 vs. Mississippi State (College Station, Texas)
Mississippi State will be a team of interest under new head coach Joe Moorhead. Moorhead has worked his way up the ranks gaining notoriety as Penn State’s offensive coordinator (2016-17) after a four-year stint as head coach at Fordham (2012-15). How Moorhead responds to life in the SEC is still to be determined, but much is expected of the Bulldogs’ offense.
Since Texas A&M joined the conference in 2012, the divisional rivals have split the series 3-3.
Week 10 – Nov. 3 at Auburn (Auburn, Ala.)
Auburn did the improbable in 2017, capturing the SEC West title. The Tigers’ stout defense that was on full display last season could be even better in 2018. Auburn manhandled Texas A&M 42-27 in College Station a year ago so revenge will be on the Aggies’ minds for their visit to Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Under Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M had difficulties winning once the calendar turned to November. Fans and media alike will be looking to see if this trend continues with Fisher now at the helm. Starting with Auburn is certainly not ideal in this respect.
Week 11 – Nov. 10 vs. Ole Miss (College Station, Texas)
The Rebels were one of the surprise teams in the country last season under then-interim head coach Matt Luke. Ole Miss went 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC while serving a self-imposed postseason ban. The team could have folded after a rough start to the season with nothing to play for, but won three out of its final four games to finish strong and give fans and supporters a reason to look forward to 2018.
The Aggies were able to escape Oxford last year with a 31-24 victory. This is another game Fisher and company can ill afford to lose.
Week 12 – Nov. 17 vs. UAB (College Station, Texas)
The non-conference game against the Blazers from Conference USA may seem like a throwaway date, but it could be vital for Texas A&M’s bowl hopes or to help Fisher surpass last year’s win total. UAB hung tough against Florida in the Swamp for a brief period last season before the Gators pulled away for a comfortable 36-7 victory.
Week 13 – Nov. 24 vs. LSU (College Station, Texas)
A generation has come since Texas A&M last beat LSU. If the talk of a November slide is to be put to rest, the Aggies will have to put an end to a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers, a stretch that dates back to the 1995 campaign.
LSU is another team college football has an eye on teetering between a powerhouse and a good overall team. New LSU offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger is the pivot point between the two. This could be another big win for Texas A&M if all goes as planned.
— Written by Ryan Wright, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and an established media professional with more than two decades' worth of experience and is a member of the FWAA. Over the years, Wright has written for numerous sites and publications and has his own recruiting site, www.recruitingnewsguru.com. Follow him on Twitter @RyanWrightRNG.
(Top photo courtesy of 12thMan.com)