South Carolina and Texas A&M enter Saturday’s Southeastern Conference game in College Station, Texas, looking to halt losing streaks.
The Aggies (4-3, 2-2) opened as a two-touchdown favorite and have won eight of nine meetings between the schools, who have played each other every season since 2014. South Carolina won last year at home, 30-24.
Before last weekend’s bye, Texas A&M lost consecutive one-score road matchups against premier SEC talent: then-No. 11 Alabama 26-20 and former No. 19 Tennessee 20-13.
Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday that morale heading into the final five games is strong despite consecutive losses and two weeks to prepare for the Gamecocks (2-5, 1-4).
“You’re always resetting your goals and what they are,” Fisher said. “You break the season down into four-game increments. … You want to run (the rest of the table), but you do it one at a time.
“We can have a very successful season (at 9-3) — not exactly what we wanted, but at the same time we can have a heck of a year.”
Meanwhile, South Carolina has lost three straight games and is ahead of only Vanderbilt in the SEC East.
The problem facing coach Shane Beamer’s team has been defense, which has allowed at least 30 points in each of its last four games, including a 37-30 win over Mississippi State on Sept. 23.
Despite generating 20 first downs in Saturday’s 34-12 loss at then-No. 20 Missouri, the South Carolina offense produced just 286 total yards and a dozen points — on Mitch Jeter’s four field goals.
Also, the Tigers sacked Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler six times.
“We’ve got to do a better job of protecting,” Beamer said. “We tried. We were chipping. We were max-protecting. We were moving the pocket. We were trying to get the ball out of his hands quickly.”
Among receivers, South Carolina’s Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr. (foot injury) has missed a month of play, and Xavier Legette (upper body) has no timetable to return.