By Jack Holmes
Will Texas A&M continue - its mostly - season opening winning ways when it hosts Texas State at Kyle Field on Aug. 26 at 7:30 p.m. to open up the 2019 season?
Texas A&M has played well in their season openers in recent years, which bodes well for this year’s Thursday night match up at Kyle Field, outside of one heartbreaking meltdown in California that will haunt Aggie fans for many years to come.
Here is how the Aggies have fared in their last five season openers:
2014 – No. 9 South Carolina, W 52-28
The Aggies were given a tough opponent to open the season, traveling to face No. 9 South Carolina who were coming off three consecutive 11-2 seasons. No. 21 Texas A&M entered the game with quarterback Kenny Hill replacing the departed Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, while the Gamecocks would try to stop the Aggies without the NFL’s No.1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney on defense.
A&M cruised past South Carolina, as Hill’s 511 passing yards broke Manziel’s single-game record and his 44 completions to 12 different wide receivers passed Jerrod Johnson's 2010 record. Running back Tra Carson ran for three touchdowns, as the Aggies totaled 680 yards of offense in the game; the most allowed by the Gamecocks since 2007.
The result ended South Carolina’s 18-game home winning streak, and is one of A&M’s biggest opening wins in recent memory.
Home opener: Lamar, W 73-3
A crowd of 104,728 were on hand for the first game played at the newly renovated and expanded Kyle Field. Despite kickoff being delayed for over two hours, the ninth-ranked Aggies blew by Lamar. Hill threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns in less than three quarters, as the Aggie offense amassed 630 yards against the Cardinals.
2015 – No. 16 Arizona State, W 38-17
Although the Aggies rolled to a win, the game was not without controversy. Kyle Allen won the starting quarterback job in camp, but Kevin Sumlin replaced him with Kyler Murray in the second quarter after the offense stalled. The two alternated for the rest of the game.
Allen threw a touchdown early in the game, sat most of the third quarter and ran for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal the game. He ended the game with 198 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, while Murray totaled 49 yards and threw one interception. Though we all know how that Murray story ended.
The defense also played their part, forcing two turnovers, nine sacks and 14 tackles for a loss.
Home opener: Ball State, W 56-23
No. 16 Texas A&M found their footing on offense in their next game. Allen threw for 126 yards and three touchdowns in the first half, while Carson ran for a 59-yard touchdown. Murray replaced Allen late in the first quarter, when he threw his first career touchdown; a 10-yard pass to Christian Kirk. Cornerback De’Vante Harris had a 40-yard pick six in the first quarter, helping to make the score 49-3 at halftime.
The result extended A&M’s nonconference winning streak to 18 games.
2016 – UCLA, W 31-24 (OT)
The Aggies opened their 2016 season with a thrilling battle against the Bruins at Kyle Field. Trevor Knight made his debut in the maroon and white, going up against now-Miami Dolphin Josh Rosen.
Knight played well, passing for 239 yards and one touchdown, while rushing for two more. A&M produced on the ground too, totaling 203 yards, including a touchdown from Keith Ford and 94 yards from Trayveon Williams.
UCLA’s offense struggled behind three interceptions from Rosen against a defense led by Myles Garrett, and the Aggies were up by 15 points in the fourth quarter. The Bruins would score twice in two minutes, and a two-point conversion brought the game even.
In overtime, Knight scored on a fourth-and-one from the one on the Aggies opening possession. On the Bruins possession, Justin Evan knocked down a pass from Rosen to seal the victory.
Although it was a thrilling win for the Aggies, UCLA would get the last laugh the next season.
2017 – UCLA, L 44-45
This is undoubtedly the most heartbreaking opening loss in Texas A&M football history. Despite leading 44-10 with four minutes left in the third quarter, the Aggies allowed the Bruins to score on five consecutive possessions to come back for a last-minute win.
With 43 seconds remaining in the game, Rosen faked a spike and found Jordan Lasely in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown to take the lead. Mond and the Aggie offense had no response. Rosen ended the game with 491 yards and four touchdowns to help his team overcome a 34-point deficit.
Despite poor quarterback play and a meltdown from the defense, A&M impressed on the ground. 382 of their 471 yards came from the running backs, as Williams totaled 203 yards and two touchdowns, while Ford had 114 yards and three scores.
It was only the second loss in six openers for Kevin Sumlin. It is one that Aggie fans will remember for a long time.
Home opener: Nicholls, W 24-14
Maybe still shocked from the previous week’s meltdown at the Rose Bowl, the Aggies struggled with Nicholls, an FCS, Southland Conference team. The game was tied at 14 with 7:30 minutes remaining in the game before running back Kendall Bussey plowed into the end zone for a two-yard score to put the Aggies ahead. He ended the game with 97 yards.
A&M’s offense looked solid early, as Mond found Kirk for a 27-yard touchdown, while Williams had a 17-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Those would be the last Aggie points until Bussey’s run late in the fourth quarter, as the offense punted on five consecutive possessions.
The 2017 season had a rocky start to what would be Sumlin’s last year in Aggieland.
2018 – Northwestern State, W 59-7
Texas A&M had no trouble with this FCS, Southland Conference school, as the Aggies dominated in Jimbo Fisher’s Kyle Field debut. The offense started the season with a bang, totaling 758 yards in the rout.
Williams ran for 240 yards and three touchdowns, including a 73-yard touchdown run early in the game. It was the second-best rushing game in school history behind Bob Smith against SMU in 1950.
Mond, who won the starting quarterback job over Nick Starkel in camp, threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns, adding a score on a one-yard run. He was replaced by Starkel in the fourth quarter, who added 63 yards and a touchdown.
In the following week, Fisher’s team played No. 2 Clemson to a two-point game, narrowly losing to the eventual National Champions.
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