Northwestern Football: Scouting the Texas A&M Aggies

Jeffrey BatheContributor IIIDecember 10, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Ryan Tannehill #17 of the Texas A&M Aggies throws a pass against the Texas Longhorns in the second half of a game at Kyle Field on November 24, 2011 in College Station, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
Darren Carroll/Getty Images

The year 1949 sticks out in the mind of the players and coaches at Northwestern. The date is not important because they are huge fans of Harry Truman or like to celebrate the anniversary of the first Emmy Awards, but because it is the last time that the Wildcats won a bowl game.

The Wildcats have come close in the past three seasons, but still have not been able to hoist a bowl trophy in almost 63 years. 

This year, the Wildcats will travel to Houston to play Texas A&M in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas on New Year's Eve.

While both teams are 6-6, the paths that these two teams took to get the this point are completely opposite. Northwestern was 2-5 and 0-4 in the Big Ten, while the Aggies were 5-2 and ranked 16th in the nation. 

The Wildcats rallied behind the return of quarterback Dan Persa, who has an awe-inspiring 74.2 percent completion rate; Texas A&M faltered defensively and fired coach Mike Sherman.

For those unfamiliar with the Aggies, Texas A&M has a high-octane offense. They rank 18th in passing yards, 21st in rushing yards and 11th overall in scoring.

The key to the Aggies' offense is WR Ryan Swope. He caught 81 passes for 1,102 yards and 11 touchdowns. This is even more impressive as only four wide receivers in the Big 12 passed the 1,000 plateau this season.

Texas A&M has a two-headed running attack with Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. A concern for the Aggies is Gray. While running for over 1,000 yards, he missed the regular season finale with a stress fracture in his left shoulder. His status for the bowl game is still undecided.

The kicking game is a strength for the Aggies. Placekicker Randy Bullock won this season's Lou Groza Award, which honors the top collegiate kicker.

The defense was a weak spot for the Aggies this season. Texas A&M was 76th in scoring, with many of those points coming at inopportune times.

If games were 30 to 45 minutes in length, we would be talking about the Aggies being in the BCS picture. This team was good enough to lead 11 of their 12 games by double digits, but faltered late to lose six of those games. That has led to a great deal of frustration for the Aggie faithful. The team has become the butt of jokes by soon-to-be ex-Big 12 rivals. 

The Aggies are much better than their 6-6 record, but one has to wonder if they have anything left in this roller-coaster season. This game is virtually a home game for A&M and the Wildcats are road warriors. They have won 14 of 22 road games since 2008.

It will be a shootout, but the Wildcats will prevail 42-38.