Jimbo Fisher really knows Clemson, but can he lead Texas A&M to a win?

Jimbo Fisher received some harsh news after he was hired as Texas A&M’s newest coach.

He glanced at the 2018 schedule and winced.

Fisher switched conferences, when he left Florida State to head to A&M, morphing from the ACC to the SEC. But he couldn’t shake Clemson. The two teams face each other Saturday night at Kyle Field.

“It was kind of ironic, when I accepted the job, looked down (at the schedule) — ‘you’ve got to be kidding,’ ” Fisher said Monday. I said, ‘Really?’ It’s ironic, because whoever won that game for so many years won the conference. Every year that was a critical game. I guess it’s kind of ironic; I guess it’s fitting.”

During his eight seasons coaching Florida State, Fisher was an even 4-4 against Clemson. However, the Tigers won the last three. During last year’s game at Clemson, the Tigers built a 17-0 lead on their way to a 31-17 victory.

Dabo Swinney’s Tigers are considered college football royalty, having made the first three College Football Playoff brackets. They won it all in 2016 but lost to Alabama in the finals in 2015 and the semis in 2017.

At No. 2 nationally, Clemson will be the highest-ranked nonconference opponent ever to play at Kyle Field. The renewed matchup between Fisher and Sweeney proved to be so enticing that ESPN decided to bring its traveling “College GameDay” show to College Station for a Saturday morning telecast.

Clemson did nothing last Saturday in its opener to diminish its status as one of the early favorites for a playoff berth. The Tigers beat Furman at home 48-7.

The unranked Aggies opened the season last Thursday with a 59-7 pounding of Northwestern State. Fisher’s offense stayed deliberately vanilla, relying heavily on a bulldozing rushing game. The Aggies rolled to 503 yards on the ground and totaled 758 total. It was the second time in program history that the Aggies rushed for more than 500 and eclipsed 200 passing in the same game.

A&M has enjoyed two extra days to recover from the opener and prep for Clemson. Fisher probably has dug out his notes from previous games against the Tigers. He probably has most of what Clemson does memorized.

“The good news is you know,” Fisher said. “The bad news is you know.”

Given the high level of talent on the Tigers’ roster, is it even enough to keep the Aggies in the game with the Tigers?

Try this for context: Clemson’s defensive front four probably is the best in college football. All four starters have made an All-America list in their career.

Clelin Ferrell was a 2017 finalist for the Hendricks Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive end. Tackle Christian Wilkin was a finalist for the Nagurski in 2016. That’s the award for the nation’s top defender. Defensive end Austin Bryant was an All-American last season, and tackle Dexter Lawrence is a preseason pick.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper lists three of the linemen among his top 20 picks for next year’s NFL draft.

Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant was a Davey O’Brien semifinalist last season. And Hunter Renfrow, who has caught four touchdown passes in national championship games, is back, too.

The Aggies believe Fisher’s inside knowledge will lead them to a win. Oddsmakers, however, have established Clemson as a two-touchdown favorite.

“We’re excited to be able to implement what he wants us to do,” offensive lineman Keaton Sutherland said.

Linebacker Tyrel Dodson looks at A&M as the favorite.

“No one has ever seen this team before,” Dodson said. “No one has ever seen this Jimbo Fisher era team before.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Faces off the Field: Jules Mokry, volleyball junior, Vandegrift
Faces off the Field: Jules Mokry, volleyball junior, Vandegrift

Tell me something about the first time you played organized volleyball. Well, when I first fell in love with the sport and decided to commit to the hours of practices and games, I was 11 and playing under Eric Sullivan, the assistant coach at the University of Texas. He really inspired my love of volleyball and love of competition. What makes volleyball...
High school volleyball: Fab Fives and notes
High school volleyball: Fab Fives and notes

FAB FIVES Class 6A 1. Lake Travis (25-11) 2. Vista Ridge (23-12) 3. Westlake (25-9) 4. Round Rock (29-7) 5. Vandegrift (23-13) Class 5A 1. Hutto (29-8) 2. Dripping Springs (20-15) 3. Rouse (15-18) 4. Cedar Park (22-12) 5. Georgetown (23-12) Class 4A and Others 1. Johnson City (25-5) 2. Wimberley (20-11) 3. Liberty Hill (23-12) 4. Round Rock Christian...
Golden’s Nuggets: Longhorns have newfound prosperity … don’t they?
Golden’s Nuggets: Longhorns have newfound prosperity … don’t they?

Texas and prosperity. The two have been mutually exclusive in recent years. Until now. Prosperity is a good thing, even if it’s in a small sample like we’ve witnessed over the past couple of weeks. The Longhorns will take it given what’s gone down on the Forty Acres over the past four seasons. The sudden success led to an interesting...
UIL to consider how Ann Richards School would appeal classification
UIL to consider how Ann Richards School would appeal classification

The volleyball team at Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders has had to temper its expectations this season. A program that has made the playoffs every season dating back to 2012 is 3-6 through the first round of district play, in eighth place out of 10 schools. The reason has less to do with a change in skill level than it does with the competition...
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond thinks fondly of Arkansas
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond thinks fondly of Arkansas

Kellen Mond’s first real, bona fide, competitive game came this time a year ago, when Texas A&M faced Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The contest was the Aggies SEC opener, and it no longer mattered that Mond was a freshman struggling to learn an offense and lead a team as the anointed starter recovered from ankle surgery. Mond rushed...
More Stories