With Texas A&M football’s season opener quickly approaching, it’s time to look back at the highlights of last year’s rollercoaster season.
The Aggies finished 2018 with a 9-4 season record in head coach Jimbo Fisher’s first year in Aggieland. The season started with a Thursday game in which the Aggies earned a statement 59-7 win over Northwestern State before moving on to a more challenging opponent — then-No. 2 Clemson.
Last year’s Clemson matchup set the tone for the Aggies’ 2018 season. In Week 2, there were still many unanswered questions surrounding Fisher and whether the players had fully bought into his system. When A&M lost that game by only two points, it became clear that this was a kind of team that fans had not seen in Aggieland in a long time.
In the weeks that followed, it seemed as though A&M’s performance against Clemson might have been a fluke rather than the result of Fisher’s new no-nonsense system. The Aggies struggled big time against Alabama, falling 45-23, and barely came out on top over Arkansas.
The Kentucky game, however, changed that narrative when A&M grinded out a 20-14 win over the Wildcats in overtime. The grit that the team displayed by staying in the game even when they were down set the record straight that this was truly a new era in A&M football.
The Aggies carried the momentum they garnered with the win at home over Kentucky into South Carolina, where they topped the Gamecocks 26-23 after a hard-fought battle.
Two consecutive losses to SEC opponents Mississippi State and Auburn led to speculation of the infamous November Slump that has grieved the Aggies in seasons past, but A&M turned things around with a win over Ole Miss on Nov. 10. The win wasn’t as easy to come by as it sounds, however, as Fisher even considered benching Kellen Mond in favor of former backup quarterback Nick Starkel. Fisher stuck with Mond though, and the then-sophomore led the Aggies to the 38-24 win.
Going into the LSU game, No. 22 A&M sat at a 7-4 season record, as they had in many previous seasons. Tensions were high, expectations were high, but no one could predict how high the final score would be.
In what became the highest-scoring game in Football Bowl Subdivision history and tied for the longest game in NCAA history, the Aggies earned a victory over then-No. 8 LSU for the first time since 1995, securing the 74-72 win in seven overtimes. There were many points in the game that had fans calling it a loss — and the Tigers even fell prey to that, dousing head coach Ed Orgeron in Gatorade at the end of the fourth quarter.
A call that Mond had spiked the ball before time ran out put one second back on the clock, allowing the Aggies to score and tie the game. Seven overtimes later, A&M was victorious.
A&M finished off the year with a record-breaking final game against North Carolina State in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl. With the 52-13 win, the Aggies not only earned their first bowl game win since 2014, but also earned A&M its first ever touchdown by a 12th Man in school history as Cullen Gillaspia scored the final touchdown of the night.
Two other Aggies made history that night. Trayveon Williams, who departed for the NFL in April, set a Gator Bowl rushing record with 236 yards. Junior punter Braden Mann also set an NCAA record for the highest average per punt in a single season.
A&M will open the 2019 season on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., as Texas State comes to Kyle Field.