TV Schedule: Wednesday December 30, 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Stadium: Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
Line: Louisville (-5)
The 2015 edition of the Music City Bowl pits the Texas A&M Aggies against the Louisville Cardinals. The Aggies are in all sorts of trouble with players leaving the program and would love to find something positive to end the season. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are looking to use this game to build towards a better 2016 campaign.
It’s been a rough last week or so for the Aggies, as they’ve lost their top two quarterbacks to surprising and controversial transfers. First, Kyle Allen announced his intention to leave College Station, and just the other day, freshman Kyler Murray also announced he’s bolting the program. The moves certainly put a damper on the bowl game and puts the Aggies in disarray. It’s hard to imagine them being able to concentrate and put something together, but you just never know. That’s why the game is played on the field and not on paper.
Taking over at QB is the only other scholarship player left at the position — Jake Hubenak. He is a JUCO transfer who was the passing leader in the 2014 season for Blinn College. So there is some talent there, but very little experience at the FBS level of play. A heavy workload should be scheduled for senior running back Tra Carson to help the young quarterback get comfortable and not throw him to the wolves right away. Carson rushed for over 1,000 yards this season. Other weapons to watch for Hubenak are true freshman Christian Kirk, Ricky Seals-Jones and Josh Reynolds. Look for A&M to try to get the ball in Kirk’s hands in a bunch of different ways, as they try to create some offense. On defense, Myles Garrett, who had 11.5 sacks this season, will look to make some big plays and try to make things easier for the offense.
For the Cardinals, it is expected that speedy and scrambling freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson will start. They’ve played three quarterbacks this year, but Jackson’s ability to create with his legs adds another dimension to the offense that Kyle Bolin and Reggie Bonnafon can’t. Jackson ran for 907 yards and nine scores this season while throwing for over 1,600 yards and 10 scores. He did throw eight INTs that he needs to cut down. Other players to watch are running back Brandon Radcliff and receivers James Quick, Jaylen Smith and Jamari Staples.
It will certainly be interesting to see how the Aggies will come out and play in this game. Before the transfers, this would have been a pretty appetizing game, but that is a bit up in the air now. They have a couple of weeks to try to put a game plan together. In the end, I think the Aggies will rally together and put up a good fight, but they should have a hard time scoring with Louisville and containing Jackson.
Prediction: Louisville 27, Texas A&M 17