Texas A&M finally got its signature win under Jimbo Fisher.
The Aggies, ranked No. 21 after getting trounced a week ago by Alabama, welcomed No. 4 Florida to Kyle Field and pulled out a 41-38 upset victory.
After Kellen Mond hit unknown wideout Caleb Chapman for a 51-yard bomb to tie the score at 38-38 with 4:30 to play, the A&M defense forced its first turnover of the day — stripping Florida RB Malik Davis — to get the ball back near midfield.
From there, Mond led the A&M offense deep into Florida territory to set up the game-winning field goal, a 26-yard chip shot from Seth Small, allowing the A&M faithful to celebrate.
It was a strong performance from a Texas A&M offense that has not been very impressive early in the season. Mond, one of the country’s most talented players but often maligned for his inconsistency, played one of the better games of his college career. He threw for 238 yards and three touchdowns, including two to Chapman.
Chapman had just six catches for 52 yards in 15 career games entering Saturday. In this one, he caught nine passes for 151 yards and two scores. His fourth-quarter score came on a great individual effort as Mond slightly underthrew the deep ball.
— Sideline CFB (@SidelineCFB) October 10, 2020
Mond and Chapman weren’t the only stars for the A&M offense. While the passing game led the way early and made the play to tie the game, it was Isaiah Spiller who led the way throughout the second half. Spiller rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries, including a bruising 19-yard scoring run on a fourth-and-2 play.
That Spiller touchdown gave A&M a 31-28 lead with 12:35 to play, but Kyle Trask and the high-powered UF offense responded.
First, UF tied the game with a 53-yard field goal by Evan McPherson. And on the subsequent drive Florida forced a fumble on a big hit on A&M’s Ainias Smith. Five plays later, Dameon Pierce gave the Gators a 38-31 lead with 6:14 to play.
From there, though, it was all A&M. The Mond-to-Chapman connection tied the game, and the offense quickly returned to the field following Davis’ fumble. The play that ultimately sealed the victory for A&M was a 16-yard pitch-and-catch to Chase Lane on third-and-8 from the Florida 35.
Had A&M not converted on that play, Small would have been looking at a much more difficult field goal. Instead, Lane’s reception and an 11-yard Spiller run put the Aggies inside the 10. From there, all it took was a 26-yarder from Small to clinch the upset victory.
Huge win for A&M
Before Saturday, the Aggies had continually come up short in big games under Jimbo Fisher.
This is the third year for A&M under Fisher, the coach it gave a 10-year, $75 million guaranteed contract. Entering Saturday, he had just one win over a ranked SEC opponent — the famous seven-overtime game against LSU. Fisher has a reputation as a top offensive mind, but that had yet to materialize in College Station — until Saturday.
Mond did not make any mistakes like the pick-six he threw last week against Alabama. The much-maligned receiving corps had somebody — Chapman — step up. And the running game was dominant, averaging more than five yards per carry. The defense struggled some against the high-powered Gators offense, but made the big play when it mattered.
It’s amazing how one win can change the perception of a program. And now the challenge will be to avoid a letdown next weekend at Mississippi State and carry the momentum through the rest of the season.
Florida defense has some serious issues
The explosiveness of the Florida offense is what made UF leapfrog Georgia in the preseason SEC East ballot. The offense had no problems on Saturday, but the defense had major issues.
It was pretty clear that the Gators had some holes on that side of the ball in wins over Ole Miss and South Carolina. But they were thoroughly exploited by the Aggies. A&M finished the afternoon with 543 yards of offense.
That is the same Texas A&M offense that scored 17 points against Vanderbilt. Sure, that was a season opener and the Aggies are in a better rhythm now, but it still was pretty alarming to see how easily the Aggies could shred the Gators — both on the ground and through the air.
With Trask and Kyle Pitts leading the way, UF has a championship-level offense. But this defense is a serious liability through three weeks.
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