ACU (5-5, 3-3) heads to College Station this weekend to take on Texas A&M (6-4, 4-3) in the Wildcats final and most anticipated matchup of the season.
The Wildcats enter Saturday’s game coming off of a heartbreaking 31-30 loss to Tarleton State the week before. Despite holding a steady lead in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats were not able to hold on as the loss for ACU brings the Wildcats overall and conference record to an even .500.
“We have got to learn how to finish,” head coach Keith Patterson said. “We talk about it all the time. We want to be a program that can win games when things get difficult. Things got a little bit difficult there in the fourth quarter and we have just got to learn to win games like that.”
The Aggies come into Saturday coming off of a blowout 51-10 win last week versus Mississippi State.
In their last matchup of the year, ACU will aim to pull off the major upset in what would undoubtedly be the biggest win in program history and give the Wildcats back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in the Div. I era.
It will be no easy task however, as TAMU, in despite of what most Aggie fans would consider a down year, still ranks fourth in the Southeastern Conference in points per game and fourteenth in ESPN’s college football power index.
“For us the game is going to feel fast,” Patterson said. “The first two or three possessions you are going to go out there and be like warped speed and everything is going to be going extremely fast. The first two or three series of the game, you gotta let the game come to you. You’ve got to get your feet on the ground, don’t panic and just keep playing.”
A key factor for the Wildcats if they want to hang with the Aggies on Saturday is the turnover battle, an area that when the Wildcats succeed, can have a solid grasp on the game. The team ranks sixth in the FCS with only three fumbles lost this season and senior defensive back Patrick Jolly leads the United Athletic Conference with four interceptions on the year.
Another key aspect of Saturday’s matchup will come up front and how the ACU offensive line can handle the Aggies. TAMU leads the nation in sacks per game and tackles for loss. However, ACU’s veteran O-line led by senior Reese Moore allows only 1.20 sacks per game and is able to open up major holes for running backs to make their way down the field.
ACU will rely heavily on their one-two punch of running backs in sophomore Jordan Vaugn, who led ACU with 79 yards and two TD’s last week and sophomore Jay’Veon Sunday who has had two 140+ rushing yard games this season.
“The way I look at it is what an incredible opportunity for our young men,” Patterson said. “To go and play an SEC opponent, on a Saturday afternoon, in the fall, in Texas, it’s one of the best traditions in college football. It’s exposure for our football program and we want to go and represent our university and our football program and what a great way to have the opportunity to do it.”
Saturday’s game may receive a little more exposure than previously anticipated, as earlier this week Texas A&M announced the buyout of head coach Jimbo Fisher for $77.5 million. Fisher, who won a National Championship with Florida State back in 2013, had been with the Aggies since 2018, going 45-25 in his six year stint.
On top of everything else, ACU will be looking to end a nine-year season finale losing streak dating back to the 2014 season.
“I just want to see them compete,” Patterson said. “I just want to see them play every play to win. There is no other choice and no other way to do things. We are still trying to improve as a football program and Saturday is just another opportunity to do that, you just get to do it on a bigger scale and at a higher level.”
The Wildcats will look to pull off the all-time upset at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Kyle Field with the game streaming live on the SEC Network+ with radio coverage on 106.3 FM The Raider.