It’s time to appreciate the coaching work of art Jimbo Fisher has created at Texas A&M this season. It’s not easy to take a team ranked in the preseason Top 10 and lose six games by early November.
It’s extremely difficult to be so bad at your job that you could get paid $85.9 million — the amount of Fisher’s contract buyout — to be forced to walk away. If he does get that monstrous buyout, Fisher would pull off a feat never seen in the history of college football. No coach has cashed such a big lottery ticket by losing.
The Aggies are packing a five-game losing streak as they head to Auburn for a Southeastern Conference game that actually means more to the team that already had its coach fired. The Tigers also have lost five in row yet are playing for something, and that something is the first win for interim coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.
In Williams’ first game last week, Auburn showed some serious fight as a double-digit underdog in a 39-33 overtime loss at Mississippi State. The Tigers rushed for 256 yards, with freshman quarterback Robby Ashford and running back Tank Bigsby combining for 197 yards and three touchdowns.
In its last two games, Texas A&M suffered a total defensive breakdown, allowing 390 rushing yards to Mississippi and 291 rushing yards to Florida. Fisher has shown no ability to motivate his team, so hopefully the trend continues.
The Aggies are arriving in town in a beat-up station wagon driven by Clark Griswold. The Tigers should be a better bet with “Cadillac.”
Here’s my crystal ball prediction for early December: Williams will stay on staff and Jackson State’s Deion Sanders will be hired as Auburn’s next coach.
Pick: Auburn -1.5
Six more plays for Saturday (HOME team in CAPS):
Purdue (+6.5) over ILLINOIS: A one-dimensional Fighting Illini offense is being carried by Chase Brown, the nation’s rushing leader with 1,344 yards. The ground game will be a more important factor if it’s a windy day in Champaign. Still, Illinois flopped as a double-digit home favorite last week and should be on upset alert again. The Boilermakers, who have won five of the last six in this Big Ten West rivalry, are back in coach Jeff Brohm’s best role as a dog. Purdue was averaging 32.8 points per game before its offense was limited to only a field goal in a loss to Iowa.
Arizona (+20) over UCLA: Senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson and the Bruins dropped 50 points on Arizona State a week ago and will hang another big number on a bad Arizona defense. This is mostly a spot play, with UCLA likely looking ahead to USC next week. The Wildcats, who scored 37 in a recent loss to the Trojans, have the ability to score and stay inside this inflated point spread.
MISSISSIPPI (+12) over Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s road woes are a troubling trend, and coach Nick Saban admitted as much this week. Alabama’s defense is a mess, its offense did not find the end zone until the fourth quarter of a 32-31 loss at LSU, and Saban must motivate a team that is seemingly out of the playoff picture. Quinshon Judkins, who carried 34 times for 205 yards against Texas A&M, and the Rebels can run the ball well enough to stay in this game. With his back to the wall, Saban will bounce back and get the win, but I’ll take the points.
ARKANSAS (+3.5) over LSU: There are a few tricky scheduling spots for SEC road favorites this week, none tricker than this one for the Tigers. LSU just won its Super Bowl by knocking off Alabama, an upset that left tough-guy coach Brian Kelly in tears and triggered fans to storm the field. Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels will need to play Superman again, a role he’s capable of continuing. There are also injury concerns with Razorbacks quarterback KJ Jefferson. This is an early kickoff at Arkansas, not a night game in Baton Rouge, and the spot is good for the Hogs.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (+16.5) over Georgia: The good news for the top-ranked Bulldogs is they play East Tennessee State next week, so there are no lookahead issues. But this could be an emotional flat spot for Georgia following its trashing of Tennessee in the most-hyped game of the season so far. Georgia has not been on the road since rallying late to beat Missouri 26-22 on Oct. 1. Mississippi State is a much better team at home than on the road, and quarterback Will Rogers (26 touchdown passes, five interceptions) has the firepower to keep the home dog competitive.
HAWAII (+11.5) over Utah State: In their last two tries as Honolulu dogs, the Warriors beat Nevada and covered against Wyoming. On their home field a week ago, the Aggies struggled in a comeback victory over a bad New Mexico team. Utah State is nothing special and certainly not a reliable double-digit road favorite. Hawaii coach Timmy Chang is 4-1 against the spread since the beginning of October.
Last week: 4-4-1 against the spread