The School: Texas A&M University
Record: 7-3 (3-3 in the SEC).
Ranking: 33rd in the AP Top 25 and 31st in the Coaches' Poll. The formulas have Texas A&M rated 30th in the Real Time RPI (Vandy is 91st). They are ranked 38th in Warren Nolan's power rankings (Vandy is #86).
Mascot: The Aggies. Look out everyone! WE ARE GOOD AT FARMING!
Location: College Station, TX. I guess that pretty well describes the town.
Coach: Kevin Sumlin, who will be forever remembered for introducing "Sark after Dark" into the college football lexicon when describing USC's former head coach. I guess he's alright as a coach, too.
Conference: The ESS-EEE-CEE. Formerly the Big 12. I'm pretty sure when the Aggies showed any sort of interest in bringing their Lone Star State TV markets to the conference, Mike Slive's eyeballs bugged out of their sockets like a wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon.
All-time vs. Vanderbilt: 1-0.
In the Last 10 Years vs. Vanderbilt: 1-0.
The Last Time We Saw These Guys: Well, if you're paying attention to the last two bullet points, you probably know it was a Vanderbilt loss. C.J. Duncan played the role of Johnny Manziel during Commodore practice in the week leading up to the game, and that helped James Franklin's team limit an injured Jonathan (American) Football to only 305 passing yards and four touchdowns in 2.5 quarters of play.
C.J. Duncan has since moved to wide receiver. Aggies 56, Commodores 24.
Is Vandy Favored?: No, but the 'Dores are only a seven-point home underdog to a borderline ranked team, and that's progress. If this was 2014, then the spread would have been 35 points with an over/under of 35.
Most Potent Offensive Threat: Like Vanderbilt, Texas A&M is stuck with two underclassman passers that have kept local bourbon companies producing at high capacity this fall. Kyle Allen got off to a 5-0 start as starter before he completed only 43 percent of his passes in a two-game losing streak that stuck him on the Aggie bench. That paved the way for Kyler Murray, who rode his extra consonant to a 2-1 record and completed 61 percent of his passes...but also threw five interceptions against Auburn and Western Carolina.
So, with that in mind, let's go with running back Tra Carson.
Most Potent Defensive Threat: Myles Garrett is averaging more than a sack per game and has forced five fumbles this season. All-SEC lineman Laremy Tunsil was good enough to hinder him when A&M faced Ole Miss, so now Derek Mason and Andy Ludwig will have to do some quick math and figure out how many of their freshman blockers they'll have to tape together to equal one Tunsil this weekend.
Matchup to Watch: Kyle Shurmur vs. offensive coordinator Andy Ludwig. Shurmur broke out for 129 passing yards and two touchdowns in the first half of last week's game against Kentucky. He had only 37 passing yards in the second half, including zero in the fourth quarter. Ludwig slammed on the passing game's brakes so hard that Steven Scheu could be out for the season with whiplash. Will Shurmur get some more passing opportunities against a tough A&M defense? Or will Ludwig continue to call his second halves like he's pressing the "Ask Corso" button in NCAA '08?
Interesting Fact: In 2006, Money Magazine named College Station the "most educated city in Texas," an honor roughly as prestigious as being the "most disease-free dancer at Christie's Cabaret."
Bonus Fact!: My sister-in-law is an A&M grad. The first time we ever met, she told me a 15-minute story about showing her breasts to Vince Neil. Robin Leach was somehow involved, too, though I'm not exactly sure how because all I could hear the last three minutes of that conversation was the sound of my own brain screaming.
Texas A&M grads: good people.
If Texas A&M wins, we: get a head start on Hate Week. Vanderbilt needs to win out to clinch traditional six-win bowl eligibility, but a loss against the Aggies wouldn't be the end of their season. Vandy's high APR score (yay, books!) could make them one of the NCAA's special 5-7 bowl game angels now that there are 42 posteason games that will require 82 college football programs. If there aren't enough teams that rated out at .500 or better, the governing body will turn to five-win teams, and the programs with the best graduation rates will take the top spots in the pecking order. That means a win over Tennessee would make Vandy bowl eligible...as if we needed more reasons to beat the Volunteers.