Texas A&M survived a challenge from North Carolina in the Orange Bowl, notching the win but opening the door to skepticism on their playoff argument.
The Orange Bowl closed out bowl season with a thrilling showdown between Texas A&M and North Carolina.
In the end, the Aggies emerged victorious after a 76-yard go-ahead touchdown run and a fourth-down stop. to get a 41-27 win. North Carolina drops to 8-5 on the year while Texas A&M finished 10-1 and should hang on for a No. 5 ranking in the final polls.
Here are some takeaways from the action at the Hard Rock.
Texas A&M got the win, but the Aggies weren’t a playoff team
No offense to the Aggies, but their performance against North Carolina proved they weren’t worthy of a playoff spot. Notre Dame was beaten by Alabama by 17 points. It was a blowout, but it was nowhere as bad as the Tide’s 52-24 unraveling of A&M earlier this season. Plus, the Irish held Alabama to their lowest point total of the season. If they could barely get by UNC, they weren’t going to make a dent in the semifinals.
Kellen Mond is still impossible to figure out
Is Kellen Mond good? Is he moving Texas A&M forward or holding them back? The answer certainly didn’t come on Saturday night.
The Aggies quarterback was 16-of-26 for 232 yards with no touchdowns passing though he did rush for one. If he had a better night, the game probably wouldn’t have been such a nail-biter. If he had a worse night, UNC likely would have come away with a win.
The Mond question is a big one for A&M since their fate next season could depend on his decision regarding the 2021 NFL Draft. He can come back for another year if he chooses to bypass the NFL Draft.
If he opted to stick around he could take himself and A&M to the next step, proving this 10-win season was no fluke. If he were to leave, the challenge for the Aggies to elevate from here will be even bigger.
Sam Howell will be a leading Heisman contender in 2021
Even though it was a losing effort, Sam Howell showed why he’ll be a major contender for the Heisman Trophy next season if the Tar Heels can contend for a berth in the ACC Championship Game. With three touchdowns against the Aggies, he kept his team in the game from the start to the bitter end. Howell will need the Tar Heels to improve as a team to truly contend for national honors, but he’s well on the way toward making a case to be one of the top picks in the 2022 NFL Draft if not the No. 1 overall pick.