There’s no need to suffer through football withdrawals because the Texas A&M football team will finish the season on the road, not with the Aggies boasting a pair of Top 20 basketball teams.
The Aggie men earned much-deserved national attention with an 88-65 victory over than 11th-ranked West Virginia to open the season on Friday. The Aggies jumped nine spots to 16th in this week’s poll. It’s A&M’s highest ranking since they were 15th on March 14, 2016. The Aggies peaked at No. 5 in the 2015-16 season. The Aggies haven’t been ranked this high in November since they were ninth on Nov. 26, 2007 during Mark Turgeon’s first season.
The Aggies will have their season home opener Friday against Santa Barbara.
The A&M women’s basketball team, 2-0 and ranked 19th, will play 10th-ranked Oregon at 7 p.m. Thursday at Reed Arena in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT. This is a matchup you expect in late March. Last season, Oregon reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament.
So while Armani Watts and Christian Kirk have ended their seasons at Kyle Field, Robert Williams and Khaalia Hillsman and their teammates are just starting what could be memorable seasons.
A&M junior guard Admon Gilder was the Southeastern Conference’s men’s player of the week for 23 points, nine rebounds and seven assists against West Virginia.
A&M quarterback Nick Starkel shared SEC freshman of week honors with Missouri running back Larry Rountree III. Starkel threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-14 victory over New Mexico, playing only the first half. Rountree rushed for 155 yards and a touchdown in a 50-17 victory over Tennessee.
Kirk’s sixth career punt return for a touchdown, a 90-yard effort, wasn’t enough to earn him special team honors which went to Auburn senior place-kicker Daniel Carlson, who hit four field goals in the 40-17 victory over Georgia. He had a 54-yard effort, the 13th in his career of at least 50 yards.
Other SEC weekly honors were offense — Auburn junior running back Kerryon Johnson (167 yards rushing, 2 receptions-66 yards and a TD); defense — LSU sophomore linebacker Devin White (14 tackles) in a 33-10 victory over Arkansas; offensive line — Auburn senior center Casey Dunn (91 percent grade); defensive line — Kentucky junior end Denzil Ware (two sacks, an interception) in a 44-21 victory over Vanderbilt and Missouri senior tackle Marcell Frazier (two sacks, two pressures).
Starkel also was a Manning Award “Star of the Week” along with Minnesota’s Demry Croft (105 yards passing, 183 yards rushing and three TDs in a 54-21 victory over Nebraska); Southern Miss’ Kwadra Griggs (331 yards passing, 3 TDs in 43-34 victory over Rice); Louisville’s Lamar Jackson (195 yards passing, 3 TDs & 147 yards rushing in a 38-21 victory over Virginia); Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield (333 yards passing, 3 TDs in a 38-20 victory over TCU); Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph (376 yards passing, 3 TDs in a 49-42 victory at Iowa State); Ole Miss’ Jordan Ta’amu (418 yards passing, 3 TDs in a 50-22 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette); and Wake Forest’s John Wolford (363 yards passing, 3 TDs in a 64-43 victory over Syracuse).
A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin confirmed on his radio show Monday night what most assumed — senior quarterback Jake Hubenak has been physically unable to play.
“His shoulder, he’s been injured the whole time,” said Sumlin, adding that he wanted Hubenak to play on Senior Night even if it was just handing the ball off.
Hubenak, who had played only against Nicholls State this season, played the last two series against New Mexico. He handed off in the first series, but was 1-of-2 passing for 5 yards on the second series.
“He hadn’t thrown a ball in this whole year, basically,” said Sumlin, adding that Hubenak signaled to the sideline that he wanted to throw. “That’s what was taking so long [to get the play in].”
Sumlin said the throws showed why Hubenak hasn’t played, but was glad he got to play.
“He’s a great team guy,” Sumlin said. “He’s given us a lot of stability in that room. He’s always wanted to be at Texas A&M. I’m just happy he had the experience in his last game at Kyle Field.”
Hubenak came off the bench against Nicholls State to lead A&M on a pair of scoring drives to break a 14-14 tie for a 24-14 victory. He was 12-of-15 passing in the game for 93 yards. Hubenak replaced an ineffective Kellen Mond, who returned as starter against Louisiana-Lafayette. Mond took every snap in the next five games. He was relieved against Mississippi State and then Auburn by Starkel, who started the season opener against UCLA, breaking his ankle in the third quarter.
Texas A&M’s football game at LSU on Nov. 25 will kick at 6:30 p.m. and be on the SEC Network. The rest of the SEC schedule that day is Florida State at Florida, 11 a.m. (ESPN); Louisville at Kentucky, 11 a.m. (SEC Network); Alabama at Auburn, 2:30 p.m. (CBS); Vanderbilt at Tennessee, 3 p.m. (SEC Network); Clemson at South Carolina, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN); and Georgia at Georgia Tech, 11 a.m. or 7 p.m. (ABC).