Tonight’s Orange Bowl features the SEC versus the ACC. On the SEC side of the ball is the Texas A&M Aggies. The Aggies ended the season 8 and 1. Despite not being a fan of the Aggies, being from Coral Gables and still believing it’s all about the U, even when we suck, but being stuck in Texas for many of my later years have long ago tired of hearing about A&M and UT, I had to, at the end of the season agree with Texas A&M’s head coach Jimbo Fisher. Fisher's argument was that they deserved the last spot in the four-team College Football Playoffs given that their only loss was to the number one team in the nation, Alabama and Notre Dame's only loss was to the number two team in the nation, Clemson.
Additionally, A&M’s one loss occurred early in the year while Notre Dame’s was their final game of the season, in the ACC Championship game. Traditionally the NCAA rankings have been much more forgiving to an early-season loss versus a late-season loss when teams have in general gelled into the best form of themselves. It seems as if the selectors opted for the team with the bigger fan base but perhaps also opted for the lesser of the two teams based on all other considerations. I am not sure that A&M could have put up a better fight against Alabama than Notre Dame but given what we saw in that game I would choose the rematch over the blowout we got. Either way, the Orange Bowl is a fine consolation for any team as one of the top 6 New Years' bowl games giving A&M a chance to showcase their talent to potential recruits.
As for the North Carolina Tar Heels, they tied for fourth place in the ACC. Despite being in fourth place in their own conference they were the highest-ranked team in the ACC after Clemson and Notre Dame earning them the automatic berth into the Orange Bowl due to the ACC’s tie-in with the bowl game and the other two teams in the four-team playoffs. This bowl game will also mark the first meeting ever between Texas A&M and North Carolina. This will also mark North Carolina’s first time to ever play in the Orange Bowl and their first major bowl game appearance since 1950 when they played in the Cotton Bowl. As for the Aggies, this marks their 12th consecutive year attending a bowl game but their first appearance in a big 6 New Years bowl game since the still fairly new College Football Playoffs era began.
Texas A&M Aggies (8-1) 2nd SEC West Vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (8-3) 4th ACC
- When: Saturday, January 2nd, 8:00 PM EST
- Where: Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida
- TV: ESPN
- Odds: Texas A&M -7
- Over/Under: 65.5