COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M has taken care of business in the last month and was feeling confident after a lopsided win over South Carolina on Saturday night.
However, the Aggies know that things are about to get much tougher with trips to No. 5 Georgia and top-ranked LSU in the next two weeks.
“There’s still a lot of things here that we can play a lot better and we’re going to need to with the last two games coming up,” coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Kellen Mond threw for 221 yards and a touchdown and ran for a second score as Texas A&M extended its winning streak to four games with the 30-6 victory.
Cordarrian Richardson ran for 130 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown, and added a TD reception to help the Aggies to the win on a night they piled up 319 yards rushing.
“We’re going to have to have that,” Fisher said of the running game. “You can’t have your quarterback make every play. You’ve got to have them respect the run so you can get the plays and the passes and take some pressure off of him. Hopefully, we’ll keep growing in that area.”
With just four wins and one game left the loss guarantees that the Gamecocks (4-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) won’t make a bowl game for the first time in four seasons.
South Carolina fell to 0-6 all-time against Texas A&M and lost its second straight game this season after falling to Appalachian State last week.
“We’re having hard time piecing anything together offensively,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “I thought our kids played hard and gave great effort. We just didn’t play well on the offensive side of the ball.”
The Aggies led by 10 at halftime and neither team could get anything going after the break, combining for six punts in the third quarter. South Carolina went three-and-out twice and the Aggies punted after just three plays once.
Texas A&M (7-3, 4-2) was finally able to sustain a drive when it capped a 14-play drive with a 40-yard field goal which extended the lead to 16-3 early in the fourth quarter.
The Aggies forced a fourth straight punt by South Carolina after that and Mond made it 22-3 with a 1-yard TD dive with about 10 minutes left. Richardson set up that score when he scampered 31 yards a play earlier.
South Carolina went for it on fourth-and-8 on its next drive and couldn’t convert. Richardson’s long touchdown ran came two plays later to pad the lead.
Ryan Hilinski threw for 175 yards for South Carolina in a game where the Aggies held the Gamecocks to just 45 yards rushing.
“I think the key was our defense played outstanding,” Fisher said. “Held them to 45 yards rushing which made them one-dimensional.”
Isaiah Spiller added 129 yards rushing for Texas A&M.
The game was tied early in the second quarter after both teams scored a field goal in the first quarter when Mond found Richardson wide open for a 17-yard touchdown reception to give A&M a 10-3 lead.
Seth Small missed a 42-yard field goal on Texas A&M’s next possession, but made one from 30 yards with less than a minute left in the second quarter to leave the Aggies up 13-3 at halftime.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks didn’t make any big mistakes but had trouble keeping drives going as they lost for the fourth time in five games. With a bowl game off the table they’ll be playing for pride when they wrap up their season in two weeks with a visit from rival No. 3 Clemson.
“We’re not as far off as people seem to think we are,” Muschamp said, “which is frustrating for us.”
Texas A&M: The Aggies did plenty to beat struggling South Carolina, but will need to execute much better on offense consistently if they hope to upset one of two the top-5 teams they have coming up in the next two weeks.
Texas A&M remembered the victims of the bonfire collapse on Saturday ahead of the 20th anniversary of the tragedy on Monday. Twelve students were killed and 27 others were injured when the bonfire collapsed on Nov. 18, 1999. On Saturday Texas A&M held a moment of silence to remember the victims before the game, had a logo marking the tragedy painted on the 50-yard line and the players wore decals with the same logo on their helmets.
Many of the 104,957 fans at Saturday’s game took a moment to remember Hilinski’s older brother Tyler, who committed suicide in Jan. 2018. Because Tyler, who played football at Washington State, wore No. 3 when he played, fans held up three fingers at the start of the third quarter in a tribute to him. The Hilinski’s started an organization called Hilinski’s Hope to increase awareness concerning mental illness in student-athletes after Tyler’s death.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are off next Saturday before ending their season against Clemson on Nov. 30.
Texas A&M: Visits Georgia next Saturday before a trip to LSU in two weeks to wrap up the regular season.