Let me start by saying that I view this as a very even match-up of comparably talented and well-coached teams of different philosophies and styles, that ought to produce a very entertaining game.
That said, I’m a little worried based on the general “law of averages” concept. Let me explain, if I can.
If the teams played 100 times - or even 10 - things would tend to average out. That is what you see in the results of the simulation models I often post here. But in reality, while each of the individual games that go into the simulation “average” could play out in a given match-up, what we really get is ONE specific game. It doesn’t play like the average (usually); it plays out as that one instance will play out.
The last 2 years, we’ve been relatively even teams (with A%M peaking early in their season, then fading; and us, the other way around) meeting at a cross-roads game for both teams’ seasons. In those games, we have ‘beaten’ the Aggies, yet lost the game. By that, I mean that for 55 minutes, we were not only the better team playing the better game, but clearly the better team. Of course, we all know that we went on to blow (not lose, but ‘blow’) both games. So, we, in essence, squandered two “wins”.
This is kind of the same mentality I have when watching an individual game in which we dominate - but, due to penalties, turnovers, dropped passes or whatever, don’t cash in on the scoreboard. Everyone watching the game may know that we should be ahead 20 or 30 points, but if we are only ahead by, say, 13-6 (when it could easily have been 31-6), the reality is that the other team is one play from a tie, whether they “deserve” it or not. In this case, we “deserve” to be 2-0 or at the VERY least, 1-1 the past two games; but the reality is that we’re 0-2.
Now, it may be (by the randomness of what game among the many that could play out) that a game evolves in which the Aggies have the better effort. If so, by definition, you’d expect them win (as we should have the last two years). We can’t be expected to play better than a team roughly the same talent level as we are every year. We have played better two years in a row, and have nothing to show for it. Can we do it three years in a row - and hold on this time? That’s certainly a decent possibility, but I wonder if the Aggies may not come out with a better start this time around. If they do, how will WE respond coming from behind?
To me, beyond the obvious (turnovers, which are ALWAYS the most important factor in who wins a reasonably even match), the key will be our ability to contain their QB on runs. I believe we can keep their backs from controlling the ball on us. And, I don’t think Knight will shred us passing if we put him in obvious passing downs enough times. But, if he can convert those third and long into first downs with his feet, I do worry about us scoring enough to keep up with what they will post. There are always many keys, not just one. But this is the one I think will decide this game. If we can control Knight running, I give us a good chance of winning. Otherwise, I fear that we’ll be in trouble.