For the first time since a thrilling double-overtime matchup in 2016, No. 5 Texas A&M will play Tennessee on Saturday, Dec. 19 in Knoxville.
The Aggies enter this matchup 7-1 after a recent 31-20 win over Auburn on Dec. 5, while the Volunteers sit at 3-6.
A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said he is looking forward to this matchup, but is not focusing on its playoff implications.
“What you do in the postseason results from what you do in-season,” Fisher said. “The season is not over. We need to worry about what’s going on now. I tell our players what I tell you. You control where you go by controlling what you can.”
On Monday, the offensive line, made up of starters seniors Carson Green, Jared Hocker, Dan Moore and Ryan McCollum and sophomore Kenyon Green, was announced to be a semifinalist for the Moore Award.
“The offensive line’s confidence and camaraderie have helped a lot,” Fisher said. “It’s a very intelligent, prideful and competitive group. [Offensive line coach] Josh Henson has done a great job with them.”
Despite having a six-game winning streak, Fisher said Tennessee will enter this matchup confident and his team needs to be prepared.
“Jeremy Pruitt is a heck of a coach, and he will have his team ready to go,” Fisher said. “We need to play a heck of a football team.”
Sophomore running back Eric Gray leads the Volunteers with 772 rushing yards this season and sophomore linebacker Henry To’o To’o leads with 63 tackles. Senior quarterback Jarrett Guarantano leads the team with 1,112 passing yards, but over the last two games, the Volunteers have switched to a two-quarterback look with sophomore J.T. Shrout and freshman Harrison Bailey sharing reps.
“The physicality and filling those gaps is huge vs. Tennessee,” Fisher said. “Eric Gray is a great player. Their line is big and physical. They have a good group. We’re going to need to be physical and hold the point.”
In preparation for playing on the road, sophomore running back Isaiah Spiller said the team has to bring its own energy.
“We just have to play together and be composed and play football the best way we can,” Spiller said.
Spiller leads the Aggies with 897 rushing yards and said earning 1,000 yards would be a major accomplishment for him.
“I feel like I am not worried about it,” Spiller said. “I just try to play, but I say that now and then during a game I try to get to 1,000.”
Sophomore offensive lineman Kenyon Green said each team they are matched up with consists of great players.
“We just have to prepare for them,” Green said. “Tennessee is very physical, big front and we are going to have to be ready to play.”
A&M will face the Volunteers on Dec. 19 at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN.