Sep 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Ainias Smith (0) makes a catch during the third quarter against the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M WR Ainias Smith to return for 2023 season

Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith will return for a fifth season with the team, he announced Thursday.

Smith missed the majority of the 2022 season after sustaining a fractured leg during the Aggies’ 23-21 victory over Arkansas on Sept. 24. He is able to return to Texas A&M in 2023 because of the eligibility granted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Let’s run it back,” Smith said at the conclusion of the video he posted on Twitter.

Smith got off to a strong start to the season before being injured. He had six catches for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the Aggies’ 31-0 season-opening victory over Sam Houston. Smith finished with 15 receptions for 291 yards and two scores in four games.

All told, Smith has 127 career receptions for 1,612 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as 67 carries for 384 rushing yards and four scores.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies tight end Donovan Green (18) celebrates his touchdown during the second quarter against the LSU Tigers at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M bowls over No. 5 LSU, 38-23

Devon Achane returned from a two-game absence due to injury to rush for 215 yards and two touchdowns, and Texas A&M upset No. 5 LSU 38-23 on Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

Conner Weigman threw two touchdown passes and the Aggies (5-7, 2-6 SEC) never trailed while ending a six-game conference losing streak.

John Emery Jr. rushed for three touchdowns for the Tigers (9-3, 6-2), who saw their College Football Playoff chances end. They will face No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game next Saturday.

After giving up 17 points on three possessions in the first half, the Tigers forced a three-and-out to start the second half.

LSU drove 71 yards on its first possession of the second half and scored on Emery’s 19-yard touchdown that tied the score at 17.

LSU’s next possession ended when Jayden Daniels fumbled and Demani Richardson picked the ball up and ran 27 yards for a touchdown that gave Texas A&M a 24-17 lead.

The score stayed that way until the first play of the fourth quarter when Weigman threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Moose Muhammad III. Achane, who finished with 38 carries, ran 10 yards for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

Moments later Emery ran 3 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring with 6:21 remaining.

Achane had an impact right away as the Aggies drove 90 yards in 15 plays on their first possession. He rushed nine times for 54 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown run. Texas A&M held the ball for seven minutes, 37 seconds on the drive — its only of the period — and it held a 7-0 lead entering the second quarter.

On the second play of the second quarter, Emery ran 4 yards for a touchdown to tie the score.

The Aggies drove to the Tigers 7 before stalling and Randy Bond kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 10-7 lead.

LSU tied the score on the ensuing possession when Damian Ramos kicked a 34-yard field goal with 5:38 left in the second quarter.

On third-and-goal, Weigman threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Green to give Texas A&M a 17-10 lead with 1:10 left before the half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  LSU Tigers quarterback Tavion Faulk (12) falls into the end zone for a touchdown against the UAB Blazers during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Prepping for SEC title game, LSU faces struggling Texas A&M

LSU has exceeded expectations as much as any team in the country.

Texas A&M has fallen as far short of expectations as any team in the country.

The two surprising teams will conclude the regular season against one another Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

The No. 5 Tigers (9-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) have more football ahead of them, facing No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship on Dec. 3, then moving on to a major bowl game or perhaps even the College Football Playoff.

The Aggies (4-7, 1-6) were No. 6 in the AP preseason poll after landing a historically high-ranked recruiting class but have lost their last six SEC games.

“This is as arguably as talented a football team as we’ll see all year,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said. “They’re young in some areas, but it doesn’t take away from the talent that they have on the field. … Certainly this is their game. Last one that they play this year again LSU, their rival, they’ll play their absolute best against us, and we’ll have to meet and exceed our play.”

The Tigers took the lead in the SEC West when they upset Alabama 32-31 in overtime on Nov. 5. They clinched the division a week later despite not playing their best in a 13-10 win at Arkansas. They bounced back with a strong performance in a 41-10 rout of UAB last Saturday.

“The UAB game might not have been as important to other people outside of the walls, but inside the walls that was a huge game for us. In terms of, you know, doing our job, the way the job needs to be done,” Kelly said. “The wins have been nice, the individual achievements have been really neat, the SEC West championship, but I’m most proud of the mental toughness that this group has shown.”

The Aggies nearly upset Alabama on the road before losing 24-20 on Oct. 8, but their only win since September was a lackluster 20-3 victory against Massachusetts last Saturday.

“Any time you’re not where you want to be you’re constantly looking, pushing, challenging, evaluating, changing, thinking,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It makes you evaluate everything you do.

“You can’t let circumstances dictate who you are. That doesn’t mean you’re content with them. But you can’t let it affect your process, whether you’re 11-0 or you’re having a season like we’re having right now. Hopefully it will make you stronger in the future, but it’s not fun when it’s going on, I promise you that.”

Defensive lineman Albert Regis said the team won’t approach its last game any differently than other games.

“Our mindset won’t change,” he said. “Unfortunately, yes, this is our last game. … We’ll have juice regardless because it’s a blessing to play this sport at this level. What’s not exciting about that? Why not have as much juice as you can?”

Fisher said he’s “very, very optimistic” that leading rusher Devon Achane and leading receiver Evan Stewart will be able to return from injuries and be available Saturday.

Their presence would be a boost to an offense that has struggled all season and hasn’t scored more than 28 points against an FBS opponent.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Massachusetts Minutemen running back Ellis Merriweather (7) is tackled by Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Edgerrin Cooper (45) and defensive lineman LT Overton (18) during the first quarter at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M beats UMass to snap six-game slide

Freshman Conner Weigman passed for 191 yards and a touchdown as Texas A&M defeated UMass 20-3 and snapped a six-game losing streak on Saturday in College Station, Texas.

Weigman found Noah Thomas for 22-yard TD reception in the second quarter in his third career start for the Aggies (4-7), who had not won since Sept. 24.

Le’Veon Moss rushed for 72 yards with a 12-yard score — his first career touchdown — with 5:10 left in regulation and Randy Bond kicked a pair of field goals to round out the Texas A&M scoring.

Moose Muhammad made three catches for 75 yards after being suspended last week. Weigman completed 11 of 19 passes and also rushed for 66 yards.

Brady Olson was 9-of-22 passing for 55 yards, Isaac Ross caught four passes for 25 yards, and Kay’Ron Adams rushed for 58 yards for UMass (1-10).

While the Aggies had a 398-168 advantage in total yardage, the Minutemen recovered three fumbles, sacked Weigman three times and broke up four passes. Jalen Mackie had eight tackles and a sack for UMass.

UMass stopped the run early on the opening series, but a pair of 20-plus-yard Weigman tosses allowed Texas A&M to score first on Bond’s 27-yard field goal.

Cameron Carson kicked a tying 25-yard field goal for UMass early in the second, capping a 13-play, 72-yard drive.

Texas A&M began the second quarter with a fumble and a three-and-out. UMass also went three-and-out twice before Weigman’s 22-yard scramble set up the Thomas score to put the Aggies up 10-3.

Making up for a 47-yard miss at the end of the first half, Bond drilled a 35-yard field goal to make it a two-score game with 7:49 left in the third.

Bond’s 45-yard kick with 12:38 left was no good, ending the first drive of the final quarter. The Moss touchdown run came four plays after the Minutemen failed to convert a pass on fourth-and-7.

–Field Level Media

Auburn running backs coach Cadillac Williams during warm-ups before the A-Day spring game at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala., on Saturday, April 17, 2021.

Auburn, Texas A&M meet in matchup of struggling traditional powers

Cadillac Williams, a former Auburn standout running back, will serve as interim head coach for the first time at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday night when the Tigers host Texas A&M in a game of two struggling traditional powers.

Both teams are 3-6 overall and 1-5 in the SEC and on five-game losing streaks.

Williams, who took over for Bryan Harsin after he was fired last week, has worked as an assistant at his alma mater since the 2019 season.

Auburn is coming off a 39-33 loss in overtime at Mississippi State in Williams’ debut as the interim head coach. The Tigers erased a 21-point deficit in the first half to get back into the game.

“I’m going to hold it together,” Williams said when asked about walking into Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday. “You can’t make this up. Honestly, I don’t know how I’m going to feel.

“I do know I have a job to do, to get this team ready to play and get these guys prepared and lead these guys.”

Auburn also lost five straight games to end the 2021 season, putting Harsin on the hot seat from the start of this season.

Texas A&M, projected by media to finish second in the SEC West, has lost five straight games for the first time since 1980.

“There is (a lot left to the season). Our kids see it,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We’ll play hard. We’ll practice hard. We’ve been doing that.

“Like I say, play these last three games … Auburn is a tough place to play, (and then) come back for UMass and LSU — two home games for these seniors. Play our tails off. The character of these guys, they’ll play, I know that. We’ve just got to do a better job for them.”

The offenses for Auburn and Texas A&M rank in the lower half of the SEC.

Auburn is relying on freshman Robby Ashford to lead its offense. He has completed 98 of 195 passes for 1,374 yards and five touchdowns, with five interceptions.

Texas A&M has used three quarterbacks this season — Haynes King, Max Johnson and Conner Weigman.

King — 104 of 187 for 1,220 yards and seven TDs with six interceptions — is getting most of the snaps.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA;  Florida Gators wide receiver Xzavier Henderson (3) is tackled by Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Jarred Kerr (33) in the first half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Richardson (4 TDs) fuels Florida past Texas A&M

Quarterback Anthony Richardson threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more as Florida posted a 41-24 victory over Texas A&M on Saturday in College Station, Texas.

In only their second road game, the Gators (5-4, 2-4) overcame a four-point halftime deficit with Richardson’s two passing scores to deal the Aggies (3-6, 1-5) their fifth consecutive defeat.

Richardson completed 17 of 28 for 201 yards, with touchdown passes to Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Caleb Douglas. Richardson rushed for 78 yards and two scores. Montrell Johnson Jr. had 22 carries for 100 yards and a touchdown.

Battling a flu bug all week, the Aggies started quarterback Haynes King, who went 23 of 45 for 279 yards and a touchdown.

Devon Achane rushed for 122 yards on 16 carries, with two rushing scores and one receiving. Evan Stewart had eight receptions for 120 yards.

On its remaining schedule, Texas A&M will have to beat Auburn, UMass and LSU to compete in a bowl game.

With each team riding losing streaks, both offenses appeared eager to snap the skids — scoring on the game’s first seven possessions.

Adam Mihalek ended a 42-yard drive with a 50-yard field goal for the first points, but the Aggies traveled 75 yards on just three plays before Achane rambled five yards to make it 7-3.

On a drive aided by a targeting call on the Aggies’ Jaylon Jones, Richardson made it 10-7 at 6:01 by dashing 10 yards for a touchdown.

Achane notched his second score by taking a third-down swing pass five yards for a 14-10 lead at 1:47, but Richardson went 60 yards on a keeper with 33 seconds left in the quarter.

In the second quarter, Randy Bond’s 24-yard field goal knotted it at 17 with 11:58 remaining. However, Mihalek matched Bonds with a kick from the same distance with 4:49 remaining.

Achane, who had 101 rushing yards at halftime, scored for the third time on a short run as the Aggies led 24-20 at the break.

Early in the third, Richardson lobbed a 19-yard score to Fraziars. He added another to Douglas from 12 yards with 3:58 left for a 34-24 lead. Johnson’s 5-yard run ended the scoring in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA;  Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Jaylon Jones (17) tackles Mississippi Rebels quarterback Jaxson Dart (2) in the first half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Ole Miss prevails in offensive slugfest with Texas A&M

Jaxson Dart fired three touchdown passes, Quinshon Judkins ran for a career-high 205 yards and No. 15 Ole Miss beat slumping Texas A&M 31-28 Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

Dart finished 13 of 20 for 140 passing yards and totaled 95 yards on 17 carries. Dayton Wade, Casey Kelly and Jonathan Mingo snared receiving scores as the Rebels (8-1, 4-1 Southeastern Conference) beat the Aggies for the second straight season.

Judkins, who turned 19 Saturday, carried 34 times and produced a crucial score in the fourth quarter, giving him 13 TDs — the most ever by an Ole Miss freshman.

For Texas A&M, true freshman Conner Weigman was 28-for-44 for 338 yards in his first career start. He threw TDs to Moose Muhammad III (eight catches, 112 yards), Evan Stewart, Noah Thomas and Devon Achane. Achane rushed for 138 yards on 25 carries.

The Aggies (3-5, 1-4) lost their fourth straight game in a season for the first time since 2005 as a member of the Big 12.

On the first series, Ole Miss ran six straight rushing plays before letting Dart throw. When he did, he found Wade for an 18-yard score with 13:02 left in the opening quarter.

But on fourth down, Weigman tossed a short score to Muhammad. On the next drive, Stewart made a leaping, one-handed grab from 15 yards out for a 14-7 lead.

Both teams failed on fourth-down conversions before Ole Miss successfully gambled again on a fourth-and-4 with a fake punt on its own 15. Jonathan Cruz booted a 46-yard field goal to make it 14-10.

In the third, Dart’s 56-yard pass to Mingo and a third-down face mask penalty led to the quarterback’s 1-yard TD throw to Kelly. The epic series went 94 yards on 13 plays.

Ole Miss built a two-score lead when Dart flipped a 2-yard TD to Mingo on a rub route for a 24-14 advantage.

After another failed fourth-down conversion by the Rebels, Weigman tossed a 2-yarder to Thomas with 9:11 left. But Judkins ripped off a 61-yard run and scored three plays later to counter it.

After Achane’s 7-yard catch cut it to 31-28, the Aggies got one more possession but turned it over on downs with 16 seconds left.

–Field Level Media

Oct 22, 2022; Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA;  Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin looks on during the pregame against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

No. 15 Ole Miss visits Texas A&M in high-stakes SEC showdown

With Southeastern Conference road losses dominating them last week, No. 15 Ole Miss and Texas A&M will try to reverse their fortunes when they meet Saturday night in College Station, Texas.

The Rebels (7-1, 3-1) tumbled eight spots in the Top 25 after experiencing defeat for the first time last weekend, but coach Lane Kiffin’s run-oriented offense went about losing in a strange way.

Before dropping its 45-20 decision at LSU, Ole Miss led 17-3 after Jonathan Cruz’s field goal on the second quarter’s first play. The Rebels then led 20-17 at halftime, with one of the nation’s top rushers to move the chains, consume time and add points to move to 8-0 and keep their top 10 ranking.

Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels and the LSU defense had something else in mind.

The home side ended the game on a 28-3 run, while the defense held Kiffin’s offense without a point in the second half. With rusher Zach Evans injured, the vaunted running game headed by him and Quinshon Judkins (111 yards on 25 carries, two TDs) produced just 117 yards on 37 tries.

Kiffin said his squad will encounter a similarly raucous crowd as the one they played in front of at LSU’s Death Valley.

With a seating capacity of 102,733 at the Aggies’ Kyle Field and boisterous fans cheering along with team-supporting chants in unison, Ole Miss — 0-4 all-time at College Station — can expect a more antagonistic playing environment in the massive stadium.

“I think (the Aggies will) be very excited to play, and they’re coming home after being on the road for a long time,” Kiffin said. “Their crowd is always one of the hardest places to play in the country.”

In South Carolina, Texas A&M (3-4, 1-3) fell behind 17-0 inside the first six minutes against the Gamecocks then rallied to get it to within three in the third quarter. However, the hosts hung on for a 30-24 win.

But Saturday night’s matchup in eastern Texas will be all about two West Division programs: One that has exceeded expectations and still has plenty at stake, the other desperately clinging to respectability in a brutal season.

If the Rebels win their four remaining games, which would include beating Alabama at home and ending with an Egg Bowl win over rival Mississippi State, and LSU manage to lose at least once in its final three SEC games – Alabama, at Arkansas and at Texas A&M – Kiffin’s squad would go to the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 3.

The Aggies’ goal is to break their three-game losing streak. They can still finish 8-4.

“Our guys believe and they’re into it,” said coach Jimbo Fisher, whose team will be playing at home for the first time since beating Miami 17-9 on Sept. 17.

With Max Johnson sidelined with a hand injury, Haynes King is expected to get the nod at quarterback. King left with a shoulder injury last week, turning the duties over to true freshman Conner Weigman.

The Aggies haven’t lost four straight games in the same season since 2005 when they were a member of the Big 12. Despite holding a 9-4 advantage in the series, they lost 29-19 at Ole Miss last year.

–Field Level Media

The Missouri State Bears took on the Arkansas Razorback at Arkansas on Saturday, September 17, 2022.

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No. 10 Arkansas goes for rare 4-0 at No. 23 Texas A&M

No. 10 Arkansas seeks a second straight 4-0 start for the first time since the late 1980s when it battles No. 23 Texas A&M in Southeastern Conference play on Saturday night at Arlington, Texas.

The Razorbacks (3-0, 1-0 SEC) haven’t won their first four contests in successive years since 1988-89 when Ken Hatfield was head coach. They will look to accomplish it against Texas A&M, a squad they lost to nine straight times prior to last year’s 20-10 win at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The Aggies (2-1, 0-0) beat Miami (Fla.) 17-9 last week but are still smarting from a 17-14 home loss to Appalachian State the previous week.

Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher promoted LSU transfer Max Johnson to starting quarterback for the Miami contest and was happy to notch a victory.

“Well, yeah, you had to win this game,” Fisher told reporters. “It was a tough game coming off a tough loss. It doesn’t get any easier. It’s a shot we needed. We didn’t need another shot the other way. We’ve got to keep getting better and just go saw wood and see what Arkansas is like. We play a great Arkansas team and play them very well.”

Texas A&M is averaging just 20.7 points per game but is tied for ninth nationally in scoring defense (8.7).

Arkansas is much more potent at 37.7 points per game but it allows an average of 27 points. The Razorbacks rank last in the nation among 131 FBS teams in passing defense (353 yards allowed per game).

But Arkansas leads the nation in sacks (17) and ranks seventh in rushing defense (68.3 yards allowed per game).

Razorbacks linebacker Drew Sanders, a transfer from Alabama, has been superb and is tied for second nationally with five sacks.

“It’s fun playing in this defense,” Sanders said. “We have a lot of ways to get after a team and especially affect the quarterback. Just how (defensive coordinator Barry) Odom is scheming up everything, it’s fun to play in and provides a lot of opportunities.”

The Razorbacks will look to confuse Johnson, who was 10-of-20 passing for 140 yards and one touchdown against Miami.

Haynes King was the starter for the Aggies’ first two games but the loss to Appalachian State prompted the switch to Johnson.

“I think just being ready at all times was kind of my mindset,” said Johnson, who passed for 27 touchdowns as a sophomore at LSU last season. “I’ve been through the situation multiple times at LSU, whether it was starting or not playing at first and then getting my chance. I came ready to work every day, and being around those guys makes it fun.”

The Arkansas offense is led by quarterback K.J. Jefferson (770 passing yards, six touchdowns, one interception) and running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders (440 rushing yards).

Raheim Sanders ranks third nationally in rushing yards per game (146.7) and is the first Razorbacks runner to open the season with three straight 100-yard rushing performances since Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams both did so in 2013.

Though Sanders rushed for 167 yards and Jefferson passed for a career-high 385 last Saturday, Arkansas had to overcome a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit to post a 38-27 victory over FCS program Missouri State.

“There were several different times in the game where it didn’t look like we were going to win,” Razorbacks coach Sam Pittman said. “Our kids just kept fighting and clawing and to come out with an 11-point win, that says a lot about the culture of our program and of our kids.”

Fisher said that the four players who were suspended for the Miami game due to a team rules violation have been reinstated. Receiver Evan Stewart (10 receptions for 105 yards) is the best of the bunch. The others are receiver Chris Marshall and defensive backs Denver Harris and Smoke Bouie.

–Field Level Media