Texas A&M has a shot to make the College Football Playoff for the first time this season. Not that the Aggies are the first team anyone thinks about heading into the final weekend of the season.
Ranked fifth in the latest CFP rankings and fifth in the AP Top 25, the Aggies would need some help and possibly a shift in opinion to get one of the four spots, with many around college football seeming to overlook Texas A&M (7-1), whose only loss was to No. 1 Alabama (52-24 on Oct. 3).
Coach Jimbo Fisher insists he isn’t concerned about the rankings and won’t be lobbying for his team.
“If we need an argument, we need an argument by how we play, not by what we say,” he said.
The Aggies have one more chance to do that this week when they visit Tennessee (3-6) on Saturday after last week’s game against Ole Miss was scrapped because of coronavirus cases within the Rebels program.
Fisher has helped the Aggies put together a fine season in his third year in College Station after signing that massive 10-year, $75 million deal that brought with it annual expectations of top-shelf results. Fisher, after all, won a national championship at Florida State.
Now that they are in the mix for a playoff spot, some wonder why Fisher won’t stump for his team as pundits promote teams like Ohio State and USC — both 5-0 and playing for conference titles this weekend — over the Aggies, who beat Florida along with nearly everyone else this season.
“You control where you’re going to go based on what you do,” he said. “Guys are either going to believe it or not. Our guys have done a really good job of doing that, eliminating the clutter and blocking it out. Those things are all poison and because they don’t help you.”
Notre Dame (10-0), Clemson (9-1) and Ohio State are the three teams behind Alabama and in front of the Aggies in the playoff rankings.
The door could open for Texas A&M this weekend if the Aggies win and Northwestern upsets Ohio State in the Big Ten title game or Notre Dame gets a second victory over Clemson in the ACC championship game.
Fisher’s team has stuck to the same script as their coach on the topic.
“We focus on each week, we have Tennessee this week so that’s what we are focused on, Tennessee,” offensive lineman Kenyon Green said. “Playoffs will come with us dominating each week like we should.”
One player was asked recently if he knew the team’s spot in the CFP rankings and he responded by saying he didn’t, but he knew what time that day’s practice was. Still, the situation is well known — and it does come up.
“Ohio State is not better than us,” Texas A&M junior defensive back Leon O’Neal tweeted after the latest CFP rankings came out Tuesday night. “Logging Off.”
Gary Barta, the chairman of the CFP selection committee, was asked if there was any discussion about moving No. 6 Iowa State (8-2) in front of the Aggies or Ohio State.
“Neither team played this past week, so there wasn’t new information to evaluate,” he said. “Texas A&M has a win over No. 7 Florida. Ohio State has two wins over top 25 teams. They have the nation’s leading rusher.”
He added that “we look at every team, whether they play or not, but not as much time was spent discussing any change between Ohio State and Texas A&M.”
The Aggies haven’t blown out teams besides beating South Carolina 48-3. Fisher was more than happy to send a message to those who condemn the Aggies for their perceived lack of “convincing wins.”
“SEC wins are very convincing, I can promise you that,” he said. “Any time you win the SEC West, it’s very convincing. Best league in ball, best players in ball. Convincing wins, that’s an opinion. You got to base things on facts.”
So, for now the Aggies will focus on the Volunteers. If they needed a reminder not to take anyone lightly, they got one when LSU upset then-No. 6 Florida, 37-34.
“That really showed us that you can get beat by anybody, any week,” running back Isaiah Spiller said. “I know Tennessee is going to be very hyped to play us ... we can’t let up at all.”