Finally, the Texas A&M Aggies appear ready to fulfill the potential they dreamed of when they brought in Jimbo Fisher on a 10-year, $75 million contract in December 2017.
The national championship-winning coach has brought in three straight top-10 recruiting classes and is coming off the Aggies' best final ranking (fourth) since 1939 with the SEC's best defense. The team returns 15 starters, including three all-conference players on offense.
The only problem? Texas A&M needs to replace all-time leading passer Kellen Mond.
Fisher has been well known for developing quarterbacks, and this may be his biggest task yet. Dual-threat redshirt freshman Haynes King and rocket-armed sophomore Zach Calzada will compete for the starting role. It's safe to assume that the Aggies will put up a lot of points, but the difference between an elite quarterback and one with flashes of greatness could be the difference between a College Football Playoff Appearance and yet another New Year's Six Bowl Game — or worse.
With another loaded schedule, can Texas A&M make a run at its first appearance in the SEC Championship Game? Athlon Sports' editors give their predictions for how the Aggies' regular season will shake out.
Texas A&M Football Game-by-Game Predictions for 2021
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
Texas A&M is on track to become an annual CFB Playoff contender under coach Jimbo Fisher, and the Aggies should be the biggest threat to Alabama in the SEC West once again in 2021. The offense has to be retooled a bit with four starters gone in the trenches, along with a new quarterback taking over after Kellen Mond departed to the NFL. However, Fisher has a strong track record of developing signal-callers, and the line has plenty of talent to ensure the drop-off in play isn’t significant. Texas A&M’s defense will be among the best in college football with nine returning starters from a unit that limited teams to just 21.7 points a game last fall. Playing Alabama in the sixth game of the season allows the Aggies plenty of time to fill the voids on offense. However, the Crimson Tide are still the team to beat in the SEC West and should win the battle in College Station on Oct. 9. The guess here is Texas A&M slips one other time, finishing 10-2 and in a New Year’s Six bowl for the second year in a row.
Mark Ross (@AthlonMarkR)
It sure seems like this is the year that Jimbo Fisher has been building towards since taking over in College Station. The Aggies seem poised to contend not just in the SEC, but also for a College Football Playoff spot. There's so much talent and experience on this roster that I'm not too worried about the lack of experience at the quarterback position but the offensive line needs to come together pretty quickly to help allay those concerns. Unfortunately, Texas A&M has the misfortune of playing in the same division as Alabama and unless the Aggies knock off the defending champs at home, I think Fisher and company will have to settle for a second straight trip to a New Year's Six bowl.
Ben Weinrib (@benweinrib)
The quarterback situation is the great mystery for A&M this season, and the good news is that the team will have plenty of runway to figure that out at the start of the season. With all due respect to Sam Pittman and Karl Dorrell, I'm not ready to declare Arkansas and Colorado "back" after brief 2020 seasons. Mississippi State could put a scare into the Aggies at home if they're not prepared for the Air Raid, but the Aggies should be 5-0 heading into their crucial game against Alabama on Oct. 9. A&M has never beaten Alabama at College Station in five tries, but this could be their best chance yet, especially if Alabama has trouble replacing its record-setting signal-caller. I'm not saying it's likely, but there's a path. Closing the season at Ole Miss and LSU could cause problems, but the Aggies should be favored to run the table if they can take down the Crimson Tide. This defense is good enough to propel them to at least nine wins, and if Fisher can continue his quarterback magic, double-digit victories should be the expectation, especially since they avoid Georgia and Florida this year.