Texas A&M vs. Louisville Prediction, Music City Bowl Preview

    Texas A&M vs. Louisville prediction and 2015 Music City Bowl preview. Find out who's picked to win between the Aggies and Cardinals.

    December 20, 2015

    With a defeat of the Louisville Cardinals (7-5) in the Music City Bowl, the Texas A&M Aggies (8-4) will have won five straight bowl games for the first time in school history. Check out the Louisville vs. Texas A&M prediction and game preview.


    Louisville vs. Texas A&M Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Wednesday, December 30
    Game Time: 7:00 ET
    Network: ESPN

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    Why You Need To Care

    Now in the waning stage of disappointing, error-prone seasons, Texas A&M and Louisville are hoping to use Nashville as a launching point for the 2016 campaign. Since neither school quite lived up to expectations, a bowl victory could serve as a salve for dented egos and psyches.

    Saddled with incessant offensive issues, the Cardinals retreated in their second season in the ACC. In Bobby Petrino’s long and successful coaching career, this had to be among his most frustrating years as he dealt with inexperience behind center and a sieve of an O-line. The offense didn’t find a pulse until November, but by then the vaunted defense’s gas tank was already tapped. In the end, it wound up being a middling season in Louisville. While the Cards couldn’t solve the tougher opponents on the schedule, there were enough matchups with the likes of Wake Forest, Boston College and Syracuse to qualify for a sixth bowl game in a row.

    A total mess at the moment, could winning a bowl game take the pressure off of Kevin Sumlin?

    At 5-0, the Aggies had risen to No. 9 in the polls, with SEC West wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State in the rear view mirror. Was this going to be the year that Sumlin piloted A&M to league—and even playoff—contention? Uh-uh. Not unlike the Cardinals, the Ags misfired offensively and slogged to a deflating 3-4 finish. Fast starts, elevated hopes within the fan base and weak finishes—it’s becoming an all-too-familiar theme in College Station that could dog Sumlin entering 2016, so winning a fifth straight bowl game for the first time in school history would be a valuable talking point this offseason.

    Why Louisville Will Win

    The Aggies’ offensive issues won’t be solved against Todd Grantham’s defense.

    That the Cardinals are just two games above .500 has little to do with a defense that has all-stars and future pros at every level. Louisville is flush in playmakers, like DE Sheldon Rankins, CB Trumaine Washington and speedy linebackers Devonte Fields, Trevon Young, Keith Kelsey and James Burgess. With so much talent and athleticism, it’s no wonder the Cards rank in the Top 25 nationally in sacks, tackles for loss and takeaways. Texas A&M, which commits too many turnovers and is 76th nationally in passing efficiency, will have a rugged time keeping the chains moving on this aggressive, veteran D.

    Why Texas A&M Will Win

    True, the Aggies are having trouble sustaining drives, but they won’t need to light off fireworks to beat this Louisville team.

    The Cards are having many of the same problems as the Aggies—young quarterback, erratic execution and problems reaching the end zone. For Louisville, though, the situation is even worse. Not only is the offensive line hideous, allowing 43 sacks, but it must line up opposite ends Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall. And that will be a recipe for collapsed pockets, blown up plays and Cardinal turnovers. First-year coordinator John Chavis has done a standout job with the A&M defense. Yeah, it can be a little soft versus the run, but the combination of the rush and Armani Watts and De’Vante Harris on the back end has resulted in a pass defense that ranks No. 4 in the country.

    Player Who Matters

    The defenses will be ahead of the offenses. But can either team’s rookie quarterback not play like a rookie quarterback in Nashville?

    The Aggies and the Cardinals are leaning on dynamic, yet inconsistent, true freshmen to run the offenses. In a snapshot of the future, it’ll be Texas A&M’s Jake Hubenak vs. Louisville’s Lamar Jackson. With Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray bailing from the Aggies, the offense will need help. For both teams, success will hinge heavily on the play of the supporting casts, namely Louisville RB Brandon Radcliff and Texas A&M RB Tra Carson and a Christian Kirk-led receiving corps that was underutilized over the final two months of the season.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    The defenses will dictate. The green quarterbacks will intermittently flash brilliance with inconsistency. And the Aggies will pick up their fifth consecutive bowl win on the strength of their superior line play and skill talent.

    Both teams have stumbled in 2015, but Texas A&M has a far tougher O-line than Louisville, which means occasional holes for Carson and a whole lot of pressure from Garrett and Hall off the edge. Plus, Kirk, quiet down the stretch, will be an X-factor. He’ll do something on offense or special teams that reminds viewers why he was one of the premier true freshmen of the past season.

    Louisville vs. Texas A&M Prediction

    Final Score: Texas A&M 27, Louisville 23, Line: Texas A&M -1, o/u: 50.5
    Must See Rating: 5: Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens – 1: Property Brothers at Home on the Ranch… 2.5

    MORE: 10 Best College Football Bowl Games

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