Snubbed by committee, Texas A&M will face UNC in Orange Bowl
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Texas A&M were hoping for a spot in the college football playoffs. An Orange Bowl course against North Carolina will be his consolation prize.
Just one place away in the national semifinals and fifth in the final CFP rankings, the Aggies are entering the Orange Bowl for the first time in 77 years. It is the first time in North Carolina at the Orange Bowl and the first meeting between schools.
The matchup is January 2nd in Miami Gardens, Florida. Aggie's quarterback Kellen Mond wasted no time when the playoff matchups were announced to reveal these thoughts: "JOKE," he tweeted.
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It is a clear disappointment for Texas A&M, which has won seven games in a row - the fifth-longest such streak in the country - and lost only once this season, losing 52:24 to Alabama No. 1 in the second game of the Aggies this fall.
They then rallied from an 11 point deficit in the second half to beat Florida and start that winning streak, but it wasn't enough to secure a spot in the playoffs.
“Seven direct SEC victories. Some schools don't even play seven games, ”said Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M coach, after his team finished the regular season with a win over Tennessee on Saturday. "I don't care what league you play in. If you pick the top four teams, we'll be one of them."
The committee disagreed and picked Notre Dame (10-1) with a loss to Texas A&M (8-1) with a loss for last place. Notre Dame won best against Clemson. The Tigers won the rematch in the ACC title game on Saturday. Texas A & M's best win was against Florida. Ironically, the fact that Notre Dame has already beaten North Carolina - another CFP-ranked team - seemed like the win that demolished the Aggies' playoff chances.
"Very similar resumes," said Gary Barta, chairman of the CFP selection committee, during the playoff announcement on ESPN. "But in the end the committee felt that Notre Dame deserved their way there based on the full résumé analysis and that likely resulted in an additional win over a ranked team."
Putting North Carolina in the Orange Bowl was the easy part; The Tar Heels were tied to the game because, alongside Clemson and Notre Dame in the playoffs, they were the best-placed ACC team in the final CFP standings. North Carolina won 62-26 in Miami on December 12, a win that allowed the Tar Heels to overtake the Hurricanes in the CFP rating - otherwise Miami would likely have been on their home field at the Orange Bowl.
"That would be an incredible feat," said North Carolina coach Mack Brown after the regular-time finale when asked about the prospects for the Orange Bowl, arguably the biggest postseason game in the program's history. The tar heels were already in the six New Year's bowls with two Sugar Bowl appearances in the 1940s, five Peach Bowls - most recently in 2001 - and a Cotton Bowl at the end of the 1949 season.
This is only the January 7th bowl game for North Carolina.
What you should know about the Orange Bowl:
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH
North Carolina has the No. 4 offense in the country, averaging 556.6 yards per game. Texas A&M has the number 4 rapid defense in the country, delivering just 92.2 meters on the ground per competition.
It is currently planned to limit participation in the game to around 13,000 fans. This is in line with the protocols the Miami Dolphins have made for their games and Hurricanes games at Hard Rock Stadium this season. The number of 13,000 fans corresponds to a capacity of 20% of the stadium in which the CFP national championship game will also take place on January 11th.
The Orange Bowl coaches certainly know how to end the season with wins. Fisher is 7-2 all-time in bowl games. Brown is 14-8 in the postseason.
For Fisher, it's a return to a stadium where he lost 6-0 - including two Orange Bowl wins. He went 4-0 in Miami when he was in the state of Florida and led the Seminoles to Orange Bowl wins against northern Illinois to end the 2012 season and Michigan to end the 2016 season.
Among the few mistakes in Fischer's résumé from those years in the state of Florida: He went 2-0 to North Carolina, with the Tar Heels winning both matchups with identical 37:35 results.
On the game
Texas A&M would finish with a 9-1 win, which would be the Aggies' best record since the 10-0-1 win in 1994. North Carolina won the Military Bowl last season and is aiming for the first time since then in consecutive seasons to win bowls four times in a row from 1995 to 1998.
More AP College Football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://twitter.com/ap_top25
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