Texas A&M Aggies vs. Louisville Cardinals, Wednesday Dec. 30, 7 p.m. ET
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is a good reminder of how quickly things can change in college football. A couple of years ago he was the hottest coach in the sport. He was winning - games and a Heisman with a freshman - and was widely thought to be one of the best coaches in the sport. A departure for the NFL seemed inevitable at some point - and the only thing that could get in the way of his endless success in College Station. Fast forward to now, though, and his program seems to be in turmoil, the news out of the program doesn't make him look good at all, he can't win more than four games in an SEC season, and there are reports that his job is in jeopardy. Like we need proof - winning isn't easy in this sport. It's the kind of turmoil that could easily overshadow the team's performance here.
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Music City Bowl Betting Storylines
I have been watching college football obsessively for a whole lot of years now. In that time, I have never seen anything as bizarre or incomprehensible as what has gone on with the quarterbacks at Texas A&M since the regular season ended. Sophomore Kyle Allen was the consensus No. 1 QB in the country out of high school. Freshman Kyler Murray won two National Player of the Year awards in his senior year. With those two on board the team should have been almost impossible to stop offensively for the next four years. Instead, over the course of a week both have decided to transfer. Allen went first, so Murray was assured to be the starter in the bowl game and beyond, but something inside the program was so bad that that wasn't worth it. The team has now lost five quarterbacks they have signed since 2012 well before they should have left. It's an ugly story that could only get more so as details emerge. For this game, the implications are massive. The team's two best and most experienced QBs are gone - though neither had stellar years, in large part because neither was given the chance to be the No. 1 guy consistently. Now the starting role lands squarely on the shoulders of Jake Hubenak, a sophomore who completed 12 of 27 passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in four mop-up appearances this year.
So, what can Hubenak do? That's by far the biggest question surrounding this game - nothing else is even close. He is new to the Aggies this year. He started out as a walk-on at Oklahoma State but then left for a junior college after a year. At Blinn College, the school best known as the place where Cam Newton spent his year between getting kicked out of Florida and starring at Auburn, last year he put up eye-popping numbers - he passed for 4,052 yards in just eight games and had 47 touchdown passes, including 10 in one game. He obviously has some skills, and he plays a style that should suit what a Sumlin offense is supposed to look like. He's raw, though, and has been thrust into a bizarre situation. There are advantages that he has - the team is rallying around him, and the changes happened before bowl practices started, so he will get plenty of snaps to get ready for this one. There is at least a chance he could be fine. The offense has struggled all year, though, and there is obviously something wrong with how the team deals with quarterbacks. Very tough situation to decode.
Music City Bowl Odds and Betting Trends
We've seen a big swing in this one. Louisville opened as 1.5-point favorites, and are now widely available at five points. That has more to do with the QB drama at A&M than any betting action - only a small majority of bets have been on the Cardinals. The total is a modest 47.
The Aggies are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. the ACC and 0-5 ATS in their last five games played on grass. Louisville has gone "over" the total in their last four games. Randomly, they have also gone over the total in their last four games played on a Wednesday.
Texas A&M vs. Louisville Music City Bowl Expert Picks & Predictions
I have managed to write a whole bowl preview without writing a word about one of the teams. Even odder, I am now going to pick that team. Louisville is facing much less drama, and though they are far from a great team they are coming off a nice win over Kentucky to finish the season. The Aggies are a mess, and Louisville should be capable of taking advantage of that.
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