QUICK HITS: Texas A&M 33 Northwestern 22
Posted on: December 31, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2011 3:40 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
TEXAS A&M WON. There were two factors at play in this game. There was Texas A&M's ability to blow a double-digit lead, and then there was Northwestern's tendency to come back late in bowl games only to come up just short. So, in a sense, Northwestern won this game?
No, Texas A&M finished its season with a victory, but not before making things a lot more interesting than they had to be.
The Aggies went into the fourth quarter with a 30-7 lead, so of course this one came down to the final seconds as Northwestern mounted a comeback. Still, the Aggies made some key plays when they had to in the fourth quarter, and Ryan Tannehilll threw for 392 yards and a touchdown. Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope were his favorite targets, as Fuller finished the day with 7 grabs for 119 yards -- including a huge grab on A&M's final drive for a pivotal first down -- and Swope had 8 catches for 105 yards.
WHY TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies built a lead that not even they could blow. Well, that and the fact that for the first 45 minutes of this game the Texas A&M defense just proved to be too much for Northwestern's offense. The Wildcats only managed 278 yards of offense on the day, and 147 of those yards came in the final quarter.
WHEN TEXAS A&M WON. The Aggies finally had the drive they needed so many times during the regular season to put an opponent away late in this one. After getting the ball back with 5:22 left and an 8-point lead, the Aggies put together a 12-play 68-yard drive that ended with a 31-yard field goal to make it a two-score game with 30 seconds left to play.
WHAT TEXAS A&M WON. After a season that was full of mostly disappointment for the Aggies, this one had to feel good. The Aggies were able to pick up a seventh victory and finish the year with a winning record before moving on to the SEC under Kevin Sumlin.
WHAT NORTHWESTERN LOST. Northwestern came into 2011 with higher hopes than a 6-7 season, but that's exactly what the Wildcats got with this loss. Making matters worse, this bowl loss marks the school's ninth consecutive bowl loss, tying the mark previously set by Notre Dame. Pat Fitzgerald has done a great job in Evanston, but this team just can't get over the postseason hump.
THAT WAS CRAZY. Texas A&M had a double-digit lead at halftime and didn't lose the game!
GRADE: B-. This was not a great game. In fact, for the first three quarters, it was pretty damn boring. The Wildcats couldn't do anything on offense, and A&M looked like it was going to blow them out. Thankfully the fourth quarter happened, allowing all of us to wonder if the Aggies could do it one more time. So since it was interesting in the final frame, I'm giving this game a B, but the minus is there to remind us how average the rest of it was.