5* Pre-New Year's Bowl Game of the Year
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern,
12/31/2011 12:00 EDT,
Score: 33 - 22
Point Spread: +10/-108 Northwestern
5* Pre-New Year's Bowl Game of the Year on Northwestern +10
It's been a disappointing season for Texas A&M to say the least, so disappointing that a win over Northwestern would be little consolation.
Mike Sherman has been fired and Kevin Sumlin has been hired but won't coach this game. Interim coach Tim DeRuyter, the Aggies' defensive coordinator the last two seasons, will be assuming his position as Fresno State coach following this game. Cohesiveness and motivation wins this time of year and the Aggies don't have either.
Northwestern couldn't be happier with Pat Fitzgerald, who will no doubt have his troops motivated to win the school's first bowl game since 1949. Fitzgerald's Wildcats have come up short in 3 previous bowl appearances, but they didn't lose by much. The Wildcats lost in overtime in the first two, then fell 45-38 to Texas Tech in the TicketCity Bowl on New Year's Day.
I'm expecting a big game from senior quarterback Dan Persa, the nation's leader in completion percentage (74.2). He should be able to take advantage of the Aggies' 113th-ranked pass defense (280.5 yards per game). Persa will be able to dink and dunk the Wildcats down the field, keeping the A&M offense on the sideline.
Texas A&M enters this game with just 1 cover in its last 4 contests. That doesn't bode well for the Aggies considering they are 0-6 ATS this season after failing to cover the spread in 3 out of their last 4 games. They have lost by an average score of 36.0 to 34.8 in this situation.
The Aggies are also 0-9 ATS in their last 9 neutral site games and 0-5 ATS in their last 5 Bowl games. The Wildcats are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 vs. the Big 12. Take Northwestern.