COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) – Texas A&M has had a tough time piling on points late after building a lead this season.
The eighth-ranked Aggies know that if they get ahead on Saturday against No. 9 Tennessee and let up it probably won’t end well for them. Not what the Volunteers have done again and again this year.
Tennessee’s Jauan Jennings grabbed a 43-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Dobbs on the last play of the game to give the Volunteers a 34-31 win over Georgia last weekend and improve to 5-0. The catch came after the Bulldogs took the lead on their own long scoring grab with 10 seconds to play.
It was the fourth time in five games that Tennessee has come back from a double-digit deficit to get a victory.
“Let’s just say what it is,” Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “This is a team on paper if you don’t watch it you say: ‘Well, they’ve gotten lucky.’ No, they haven’t gotten lucky. They have a veteran quarterback that is No. 1 in league for points responsible for. Let’s just start there. Whether he’s throwing it, he’s running it, whatever he’s doing he’s the No. 1 guy for points in this league. That gives you a chance to have those types of games and to win every game.”
Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight is well-aware of what the Volunteers have done this season and won’t be shy about reminding his team of their history if the Aggies build a lead in this matchup of unbeaten teams.
“Keep your foot on the pedal, don’t let up because there’s a lot of ball left to play,” he said. “It’s never over until it’s over especially with the way these guys have battled back throughout this season and that’s going to be an emphasis this week. Starting fast and definitely finishing the game.”
While the Aggies worry about finishing games, the Volunteers are looking to start fast after playing from behind almost every week.
“With these games coming up, going on the road playing Texas A&M, we need to play four quarters of football,” Tennessee coach Butch Jones said. “That’s paramount. This football team is as talented as any football team in the country.”
The first quarter has been particularly bad for the Volunteers where they’ve been outscored 41-10. Things are much different late in games where they have a 76-21 advantage in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.
“I think we’re like vampires,” Tennessee receivers coach Zach Azzanni quipped. “I think when the sun goes down, we’re a lot better.”
Some things to know about the Tennessee-Texas A&M game.
Tennessee running back Jalen Hurd has a team-high 407 yards rushing but is coming off a difficult performance against Georgia. Hurd lost a fumble on his way to the end zone. He scored a touchdown in the third quarter, but sat out most of the second half with what Jones described as a lower extremity injury that has left his status for Saturday’s game uncertain. Jones has said Hurd is day to day this week with the injury.
The game could feature two of the nation’s top pass rushers in Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and Tennessee’s Derek Barnett . Garrett has 27 career sacks and 38 ½ tackles for losses. Barnett has 24 sacks and 41 ½ tackles for losses. Barnett has recorded two sacks in each of his last two games.
This marks just the third time Tennessee and Texas A&M have faced each other, and it’s their first regular-season meeting. Tennessee beat Texas A&M 3-0 in the 1957 Gator Bowl and 38-7 in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2005.
Tennessee will be without linebackers Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Darrin Kirkland, Jr. as well as cornerback Cam Sutton because of injuries. Texas A&M starters Garrett, receivers Ricky Seals-Jones and Speedy Noil and offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor all sat out last week because of various injuries. Sumlin refused to comment on the health of any of the players on Tuesday.
The Vols get no breather after their visit to College Station. Next weekend, Tennessee gets a visit from top-ranked Alabama and the Crimson Tide will host the Aggies on Oct. 22 in games that will likely go a long way in shaping the race for the SEC championship.