After completing the regular season with an 8-1 record, No. 5 Texas A&M did not advance in ranking and will not be playing in the College Football Playoffs.
Instead, A&M will compete in the 87th Capital One Orange Bowl against North Carolina on Saturday, Jan. 2, at 7 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.
Despite being the only one-loss SEC team to not make the playoffs, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said there is no frustration within the program.
“There's no frustration,” Fisher said. “We're excited to be going to the Orange Bowl. We're in a New Year's Six game against a great opponent, and we're very happy to be there and there's no frustration at all.”
The Aggies’ lone loss came to No. 1 Alabama in Week 2.
North Carolina’s team is led by former Texas coach Mack Brown, who made it clear where he thought A&M should have been placed.
“I would like to see us expand the playoff system because there's no doubt that A&M deserved to be in,” Brown said. “Does A&M deserve to be in? Absolutely…. we're just lucky to be in the Orange Bowl playing a great opponent with Jimbo.”
During the regular season, the Aggies accumulated a total of 1,826 rushing yards, 2,109 receiving yards, 16 rushing touchdowns and 20 receiving touchdowns.
This season, senior quarterback Kellen Mond shattered four school records. He broke A&M’s records for all-time offensive yards, all-time passing yards and all-time passing touchdowns thrown this season. The signal caller also posted 2,050 passing yards and 19 passing touchdowns with 172 completions.
The upcoming bowl game will be the San Antonio native’s final game with the Aggies and he only needs two touchdowns to break the program’s record for touchdowns scored.
Fisher said the Aggies have had an incredible regular season performance, thanks in part to their leadership.
“This is a tremendous football team with great leadership who has done a great job with our young players, old players and sending the message and selling the message of what we do,” Fisher said. “Especially during this year with so much turmoil going through and so much change in our life and so much up and down. It's remarkable what they've done, but it doesn't surprise me.”
Although the Aggies did not make the playoffs, the maroon and white still remain on an upward trajectory as this is A&M’s first appearance in the CFP-era New Year’s Six bowl games.
Fisher said the future of the program is bright.
“[Being considered for the playoffs] shows the trajectory we're on and what we're trying to accomplish,” Fisher said “That we are being relevant in the national conversations and where we're going. Our brand is becoming a national brand and things we do, which I think you have to do in today's game… We also got to brand ourselves nationally across the board, and I think it sends a sign to players out there that, hey, A&M is on the rise, we're doing the things we need to do to have success and this is a tremendous program, and hopefully they'll want to come be a part of it.”