After a close 19-13 loss to No. 4 Georgia in Athens, No. 24 Texas A&M will finish off the regular season with another road game in Baton Rouge.
LSU is currently the No. 1 team in the nation and is coming off a 56-20 win over Arkansas.
Despite the daunting matchup that looms ahead, A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said his confidence in the team remains high.
“There’s heart, there’s soul, there’s ability, there’s toughness,” Fisher said. “And we’re coming.”
LSU coach Ed Orgeron has instilled that same culture of confidence in his team, and it was on full display on Saturday when the Tigers barely acknowledged their win over the Razorbacks.
“There wasn’t going to be any celebration for beating Arkansas,” Orgeron said after the game. “They haven’t beaten anyone in a long time.”
The stoicism of the Tigers is rooted in their anticipation of a post-Thanksgiving matchup with A&M.
This weekend’s game is sure to be a grudge match, as Orgeron is leading the Tigers on a mission to exact revenge on an Aggie squad that bested them 74-72 in a seven-overtime thriller last season.
“It’s going to be on,” Orgeron said. “I’ll never forget that game last year. We’re gonna be ready.”
The Tigers are a much different team than the one the Aggies faced in 2018. Two weeks ago, senior quarterback Joe Burrow led LSU to a 46-41 win over Alabama, in which the offense garnered 393 passing yards and 171 rushing yards.
Against Arkansas, the Tigers climbed to 352 passing yards and 260 rushing; LSU had only 366 yards of total offense in regulation against A&M last November.
On Saturday, LSU tight end Thaddeus Moss broke the school record for most single-season receptions at his position, with 35 catches for 410 yards and one touchdown.
The Tigers also became the first team in SEC history with a 4,000-yard passer in Burrow, two 1,000-yard receivers in Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, and a 1,000-yard rusher in Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
The Aggies faced No. 4 Georgia in Athens, holding the Bulldogs to 260 total yards. However, A&M is also coming off its worst rushing game of the season, as the Aggies went minus-1 in rushing yards during Saturday’s loss.
“Coming out with a win would have been big for our confidence, but I think this is still boosting our confidence,” junior linebacker Buddy Johnson said. “We just played with the No. 4 team in the country, and those guys were pretty good. We were going toe-to-toe with them.”
The key word in the Jimbo Fisher Era has been grit, and the Aggies have displayed that continually throughout the season. Their four losses all came against opponents ranked in the top 10: then-No. 1 Clemson, then-No. 8 Auburn, then-No. 1 Alabama and No. 4 Georgia. In those games, A&M lost by margins of 14, eight, 19 and six, respectively.
Junior wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon said the team’s mindset toward its loss to the Bulldogs would decide how its matchup with a third No. 1 team will go.
“It’s how we take this game,” Ausbon said. “We lost the game by six points, [which] shows you how close we are. We play a different team next week.”
The Aggies will also have to clean up mistakes before facing LSU, Ausbon said. A&M had seven penalties on Saturday for a loss of 45 yards, all on offense.
“Hats off to [Georgia], but I want to just see us compete with no self-inflicted wounds,” Ausbon said. “Going into this game, I want to see us capitalize on those opportunities.”
The Aggies will ride into Death Valley on Saturday to face an undefeated and top-ranked LSU squad. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.