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Aggies, Fisher Enter Open Week Still Rolling After Rolling Tide – Auburn, Ole Miss Next

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That 41-38 win over Alabama back on Oct. 9 at Texas A&M was such an emotional lift that safety Demani Richardson thought the Aggies automatically had the next weekend off.

“I thought we had a bye week after Bama, to be honest,” Richardson said. “I was like, ‘Dang, we’ve got two more games?'”

The No. 14 Aggies (6-2, 3-2 SEC) won both of those against significantly lighter competition — 35-14 at Missouri a week ago and 44-14 over South Carolina on Saturday.

Now, after eight straight weeks, Texas A&M is finally open this week before hosting No. 18 Auburn (5-2, 2-1) on Nov. 6 and playing at No. 10 Ole Miss (6-1, 3-1) on Nov. 13 before Prairie View A&M (6-1, 5-0 SWAC) and at LSU (4-4, 2-3) to end the regular season.

Without the two lapses against teams at the bottom of the standings, the Aggies could be No. 1 in the nation going into the first College Football Playoff rankings on Nov. 2. But they lost 20-10 to Arkansas in Arlington, Texas on Sept. 25 and lost 26-22 to Mississippi State the next week at home. Arkansas (5-3, 1-3) is last in the SEC West, while Mississippi State (4-3, 2-2) is fifth.

“To be honest, we didn’t envision losing to any of those teams,” Richardson said. “We knew our potential. We had to look at ourself in the mirror and find who we really were.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Elko first devised a game plan that pressured Alabama quarterback Bryce Young more than he had been all season. Then struggling sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada began playing like a seasoned veteran.

The Aggies are No. 2 in the SEC and No. 8 nationally in fewest points allowed at 16.1 and are No. 5 in the SEC and 30th in the nation in total defense with 329 yards allowed a game.

After throwing five touchdowns in his first four games, Calzada has thrown seven in his last three. He set season highs in the Alabama win for completion percentage (21 of 31 for 67. 7 percent), yards (285), touchdowns (3) and efficiency (170.45).

“I think we’re starting to mold,” Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Now, we’ll find out. We’ve got a heck of a run — big stretch coming.”

For now, though, he will enjoy the three-game winning streak and the weekend off.

“Especially where we were,” Fisher said. “I mean, to lose two games like that after being 3-0 and come back against the stretch we had. I’m very proud of them. I’m happy for them. Now, we have to maintain and remember why we’ve had success and continue it.”

The Aggies finished on a high note against the Gamecocks in what Fisher called one of his team’s most efficient games.

Texas A&M had 26 first downs to 13 by South Carolina, 477 yards to 185, 290 rushing yards to 71 and one turnover to three takeaways.

Another reason the Aggies have turned it around is junior Jalen Wydermyer, who caught four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns and broke the school record for career receiving yards by a tight end. Martellus Bennett had 1,246 from 2005-07. Wydermyer has 1,306 now, including 25 catches for 353 yards and four touchdowns this season.

“Zach throws a rocket ball,” Wydermyer said. “It’s on the dot. You can see it from the sideline. I feel feel like we’re in a really good position. The little things we’ve gotten better at weekly in practice. With the momentum we have, we can keep going as long as we just keep doing what we’re doing.”

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau has been on the LSU beat since 1998 with multiple outlets in Louisiana, prior to that he had covered both Auburn and Alabama. He won first place for his game feature on LSU's upset at Florida last season from the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). He was also named Beat Writer of Year, by Louisiana Sports Writers Association in July; placed in three Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) categories – Beat Writer, Explanatory, Game Coverage – last spring. Guilbeau was also the FWAA first-place winner for columns in 2017 and was also the top overall winner in 2016 FWAA placing first for his game story, second in columns, and receiving honorable mention for features.

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