Let’s take a look at what we can expect when Texas A&M runs the ball.  How have the Aggies fared against other rushing defenses on the ground AND how well has UofL defended the run over the course of the year?  We will take a look at each FBS game, their opponent’s average, how far the deviation was in each game & the % gained of their opponent’s average.   From there we should have a feel for how A&M fared while running the ball and how the Cards did defending it.

Texas A&M Rushing Performance

Rushing Defense Texas A&M Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Arizona State-W 124.42 178 53.58 143.06%
Ball State-W 225.50 270 44.5 119.73%
Nevada-W 188.83 233 44.17 123.39%
Arkansas -W (OT) 119.58 65 -54.58 54.36%
Miss St -W 171.67 194 22.33 113.01%
Alabama – L 74.00 32 -42 43.24%
Ole Miss – L 132.42 58 -74.42 43.80%
South Carolina -W 217.42 321 103.58 147.64%
Auburn -L 189.67 166 -23.67 87.52%
Vanderbilt -W 143.17 150 6.83 104.77%
LSU -L 131.45 89 -42.45 67.71%
Louisville 118.75 Average 8.032 98.05%

Texas A&M running the ball in 2015 was basically whatever its opponent averaged after the season is calculated but did finish with 171.67 yards per game and was the #65 team in the nation running the ball.  But the TRUTH is that the Aggies were very up & down while running the football this year. Mississippi State, South Carolina, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Ball State, and Nevada all allowed A&M to be BALANCED on offense and all of those teams lost.

In its losses A&M averaged 86.25 yards per carry and the only outlier in that group was Auburn who DECIMATED the Texas A&M passing attack.  Stopping the run seems like the best way to approach A&M and making them one dimensional.  The Aggies came from behind to beat Arkansas in a wild one despite the Razorbacks allowing 358 yards through the air, Arkansas just limited the Aggies to just 65 yards on the ground.

Louisville will be the 2nd best (behind #1 Alabama) Rushing Defense Texas A&M will face in 2015.   Arizona State is the only outlier in UofL’s category that struggled to contain the Aggies rushing attack:  Bama #1, Louisville #14, Arkansas #16, Arizona State #19, LSU #24, and Ole Miss #27.

Based on Texas A&M season average the data suggests that A&M will run for 116.43-126.78 yards in the Music City Bowl.  However, this is one area where I don’t think this data can be trusted given the up & down performances of A&M vs. Good Run Defenses/Bad Run Defenses and the huge swings that resulted from those match-ups.

Louisville Rushing Defense Performance

Rushing Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg
Auburn-L 191.75 190 -1.75 99.09%
Houston-L 239.54 226 -13.54 94.35%
Clemson- L 222.15 202 -20.15 90.93%
NC State-W 201.42 45 -156.42 22.34%
Florida State-L 180.92 133 -47.92 73.51%
Boston College-W 164.67 -14 -178.67 -8.50%
Wake Forest-W 105.17 40 -65.17 38.03%
Syracuse-W 163.17 102 -61.17 62.51%
Virginia-W 144.75 94 -50.75 64.94%
Pitt_L 185.92 244 58.08 131.24%
Kentucky-W 162.67 92 -70.67 56.56%
Texas A&M 171.67 Average -55.285 65.91%

The Cards were the #14 rushing defense in the country for the season at 118.75 yards per game.  Louisville limited 10 of 11 FBS teams UNDER its average rushing yardage gained during 2015 with only PITT going over its total.  That’s strong…..but the chart also shows how well Houston, Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, and Pitt ran the ball during 2015…….AND MORE IMPORTANTLY how important it is for Louisville to limit rushing offenses in order to win.  In its 7 wins no team gained more than 102 yards on the ground and all 5 of UofL’s losses teams gained 133+.

Texas A&M rushes for 171.67 yards per game and is the 7th best rushing offense UofL will face in 2015.  How UofL controls the Aggies rushing attack will greatly affect the Cards’ ability to win the game.  The stat average suggests that A&M will gain 113.15-116.39 yards in Nashville which is precisely in the middle of its WIN/LOSS (102/133) area.  So this battle will be very interesting.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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