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Texas A&M vs. South Carolina Prediction: Streaking Gamecocks Host Scuffling Aggies

A&M hopes for some much-needed momentum by maintaining unblemished all-time record against South Carolina.

The Texas A&M Aggies will travel to hostile Williams-Brice Stadium to face the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday night for a pivotal SEC matchup between cross-divisional foes. Both teams enter Saturday’s game fresh off a bye in search of their second conference win of the season.

Related: College Football Predictions for Every Game in Week 8

It will be the ninth meeting all-time between the two schools. Texas A&M has dominated the series overall to this point with a perfect 8-0 record against South Carolina all-time. The Aggies also dominated the most recent meeting with a 44-14 victory over the Gamecocks last season in College Station.

Texas A&M kicked off its 2022 campaign with championship aspirations and a No. 6 national ranking. Unfortunately, things haven’t quite gone according to plan for the seemingly snake-bitten Aggies, who now sit at 3-3 (1-2 SEC) on the season. They did manage to give Alabama a serious run for its money in their most recent matchup. Nevertheless, they still came up short in the 24-20 loss to the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa, resulting in the Aggies’ second straight SEC road loss. Jimbo Fisher’s squad will now hit the road once again looking to bounce back with its first true conference road victory in over a year.

South Carolina enters Saturday night’s game with a nice boost of confidence following a 24-14 win over Kentucky in its most recent outing, giving the Gamecocks their first SEC victory of the season and their first win against the Wildcats in Lexington since 2012. The victory also extended South Carolina’s current streak to three in a row, albeit two of those came against Charlotte and FCS South Carolina State. And the win against Kentucky is slightly less gratifying considering the Wildcats were without quarterback Will Levis for that matchup. Regardless, a win is a win, and Shane Beamer’s Gamecocks, now 4-2 (1-2 SEC), will take all the momentum they can get as they look to knock off the Aggies for the first time ever on Saturday night.

Texas A&M at South Carolina

Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Texas A&M -3
Tickets: As low as $46 on SITickets.com

When Texas A&M Has the Ball

It’s been a real struggle on the offensive side of the football for Texas A&M so far this season. The Aggies have yet to score more than 24 points in an SEC game and currently rank dead last in the conference in both total offense (333.5 ypg) and scoring offense (21.5 ppg). The lack of production on offense has left the Aggie faithful clamoring to see true freshman Conner Weigman, a former 5-star prospect, take over at quarterback in a desperate bid to jump-start the offense. However, all indications are that Haynes King will get the start on Saturday night, despite reports that he was a little worse for the wear (foot) following the Alabama game. It will mark King’s fifth appearance of the season. And to this point, he hasn’t made a great impression – completing just 58 percent of his passes for 763 yards with five touchdowns and five interceptions to go along with 76 rushing yards and one score on the ground.

The good news is that the Aggies’ passing game did show some signs of promise against Alabama, with highly-touted true freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart (26 rec., 303 yds., TD) starting to realize his potential in the absence of injured star receiver Ainias Smith. Moose Muhammad III also has stepped up with 12 catches for 183 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games alone. The bad news is that King and Co. will have their work cut out for them on Saturday night against a Gamecock defense that ranks 17th nationally against the pass, allowing just 179.7 yards through the air per contest. South Carolina also boasts the second-most interceptions in the SEC with eight. Furthermore, the Gamecocks are coming off a six-sack performance against Kentucky, which doesn’t exactly bode well for a shaky Texas A&M offensive line that has surrendered 10 sacks over the last three games alone.

The Aggies are far more likely to find success on the ground in this matchup. The Gamecocks have struggled to stop the run, giving up 174.7 rushing yards per game, which ranks 100th in FBS. The Aggies also have a real difference-maker in speedster Devon Achane, who ranks second in the SEC in all-purpose yards per game (152). In total, Achane has rushed for 528 yards and three touchdowns on 97 carries, adding 97 yards and a score on 19 receptions. He’s also been a menace in the return game, averaging an SEC-best 31.89 yards per kick return with a touchdown.

When South Carolina Has the Ball

South Carolina has been fairly pedestrian on offense as well, averaging 388.8 yards (78th in FBS) and 33.7 points (42nd) per game. Despite plenty of hype heading into the season for Oklahoma transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler, the former five-star prospect has yet to live up to his preseason billing – completing 65.9 percent of his pass attempts for 1,298 yards with five touchdowns against eight interceptions. James Madison transfer Antwane Wells Jr. has emerged as Rattler’s favorite target with a team-best 27 receptions for 375 yards and two touchdowns, followed by fellow wide receiver Jalen Brooks with 20 grabs for 335 yards. Much like the Texas A&M passing game, success will not come easy for the Gamecocks on Saturday night. The Aggies feature one of the best secondaries in the country, led by Antonio Johnson. They rank 14th nationally against the pass, allowing just 175.5 yards per game.

South Carolina’s best chance for success on offense lies in its rushing attack. Running back MarShawn Lloyd spearheads that effort, along with JuJu McDowell. For the season, Lloyd has rushed for 434 yards and seven touchdowns on 79 carries. He’s also been instrumental in the passing game with 15 catches for 149 yards and two additional scores. In his last three games alone, the red-hot Lloyd has scored six touchdowns total, averaging 7.6 yards per carry during that span. He should be in for a big night against a porous A&M run defense that ranks 115th nationally, giving up 189.8 rushing yards per game.

Final Analysis

These teams are very similar in so many ways. Both teams struggle to throw the football while excelling at stopping the pass. Both teams feature talented running backs and likewise, each team struggles to stop the run. That means that this is shaping up to be an old-fashioned SEC ground-and-pound defensive struggle. It’s also a matchup in which turnovers and special teams could be a major factor. A&M looks to have the edge in the turnover department, while South Carolina has a slight advantage with its stellar special teams play.

It’s certainly not an easy game to predict and this one could truly go either way. South Carolina comes into this game with a little more juice, riding a three-game winning streak, and home-field advantage looms large. If Spencer Rattler can take care of the football and avoid costly turnovers, the Gamecocks should come away with the upset. But Rattler has been a turnover machine, and Texas A&M’s overall edge in talent will be the difference, as the Aggies narrowly escape Williams-Brice Stadium with the win to extend their perfect record all-time against the Gamecocks to 9-0.

Prediction: Texas A&M 24, South Carolina 20

Podcast: Week 8 Preview, Predictions, and Picks Against the Spread

— Written by Rob McVey, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @Rob_UTVOLS.

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