CFN Analysis - Texas A&M Holds On To Beat NU
Texas A&M RB Ben Malena
Texas A&M RB Ben Malena
Posted Dec 31, 2011

CFN Instant Analysis on the Texas A&M win over Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl

CFN Analysis   

Texas A&M 33, NU 22

By Pete Fiutak

- You have to give Texas A&M credit for being consistent. It seemed like it was going to do everything possible to give way the game in the fourth quarter … again.

- You have to give Northwestern credit for being consistent. This program will never, ever, ever win a bowl game ever again.

- Next year, will the Wildcats bring a stuffed gorilla on the sidelines? It's a cute gimmick until the team comes out and stinks, and then it just looks silly.

- Texas A&M didn't have one head coach, the other has two feet out the door for his next job, and the running back – Cyrus Gray – who was supposed to be ready to go, wasn't. It still didn't matter. Texas A&M was the far better team, even with all the distractions and issues.

- No, this probably doesn't ease any of the pain of Case McCoy's late run.

- The Aggies got a decent game out of Ben Malena with 77 yards and two scores, but the running game didn't have much room to move. Fortunately, Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope carried the offense.

- Great. Del tha funkee Homosapien's Bob Dobolina has been cranking through my head for the last hour, but it's Mr. Ben Molina Mr. Ben Ben Molina.

- Ryan Tannehill and Fuller are what they are. Pro scouts are trying to make those two better than they really are because they have all the NFL tools.

- Alright, Northwestern. I know it's not for a lack of trying, but you need to find a real, live, running back. The only reason the running game has worked over the years is because of the running from the quarterbacks, and then when Dan Persa couldn't run anymore, working in Kain Colter was nothing more than a gimmick. Colter ran for 65 yards and a score, but there wasn't anything coming from the running backs.

- Don't make too much about the Big Ten's losses to the Big 12. Oklahoma and Texas A&M were supposed to blow away Iowa and Northwestern, respectively.

By Richard Cirminiello 


By Matt Zemek

For everyone who thought Texas A&M really was going to blow this second-half lead, write on a blackboard 2,000 times: "Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game since 1949 and does not achieve at a high level in big-ticket sports." Bless the Wildcats – they do try hard. They're good kids. Their program does things the right way. Players graduate, and the notion of the student athlete actually exists in Evanston, Illinois – it's not a sham. Frankly, we should all want to know that when our days on earth are done, we've lived with integrity and have become scholar-citizens. There's nothing to dislike about the Northwestern program in terms of its character, its virtue, and its overall identity. Let that point sink in. Absorb it. Embrace it. Give it the praise it deserves.

As for football, though…

…Northwestern just doesn't measure up. A disinterested start, small cover corners, a nonexistent offensive line, and a generally uneven personality are all part of the insufficient mixture that is Wildcat football. Moreover, coach Pat Fitzgerald – whose name has been connected to higher-prestige jobs in recent years – has yet to register the kinds of accomplishments that would justify such a lofty status in the college football industry. Northwestern was a terrible second-half team this season, and one would do well to realize that if NU hadn't been outcoached and outschemed in the third quarter of this game (the true measure of halftime adjustments or a lack thereof), the Wildcats might have had a chance to win. Fitzgerald, though, doesn't handle halftime very well. He is considerably overrated and needs to step his game up before he and his program take the "next big step forward" in the college football world. Gary Barnett made Northwestern a big-time program. Let's see Fitzgerald do something Barnett-ish before he is talked about for a bigger gig.
By: Barrett Sallee
Follow me on Twitter: @BarrettSallee


By Terry Johnson
Please follow me on Twitter @TPJCollFootball

- Even though they held on to win, how many people thought the Aggies were going to implode in the fourth quarter? - While this year's A&M team will likely be remembered for its second half self-destructions, it should be pointed out that they were also the team that won a bowl game for the first time in the last ten years.

- Texas A&M's defense finally played like the Wrecking Crew defenses of the mid-1990's. The Aggie front seven dominated Northwestern all afternoon, sacking Wildcat QBs a season-high 8 times. This is exactly the type of defense that they will need to play if they plan to compete for the SEC West title next year.

- Ryan Tannehill capped off a solid senior season with another excellent game, throwing for 329 yards and a touchdown. Not a bad performance that will likely end up playing receiver in the NFL.

- To answer the debate between the ESPN commentators, Tannehill is the best receiver on the Aggies' team.

- It is time to give Pat Fitzgerald credit for being an excellent coach. No one gets more of out his players than Fitzgerald. Even though the Aggies had much better athletes, Northwestern stayed in this game by out-finessing and out-executing them.

Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

- A&M almost choked on its biggest piece of food in this one. Alas, it was playing a team with similar taste buds in Northwestern.

- Why does Pat Fitzgerald get so much credit? He's a good coach but can we stop putting him in the conversation of being a great coach? Northwestern has more or less been the same program since Gary Barnett departed. Fitzgerald's purple clad warriors are still winless in bowl games under him.

- A&M is now off to the SEC, but it didn't stop the commentators from spreading the love and gushing about the speed of its defense now. That is unlikely a story line if A&M stayed put in the Big Twelve.

- Your heart goes out to the tragic loss of a teammate just before Christmas for A&M.

- Northwestern is now going to pass the baton from the oft-injured Dan Persa to Kain Colter. The program shouldn't drop off much, but it probably won't take any steps forward. Northwestern seems to be its cookie cuter self year after year.

- The Big Ten is beginning to lay down in bowl play. Both Iowa and Northwestern have the league sitting at 1-2 and it needs a reputational boost. Luckily there are still seven chances to make an impression.

- You get the feeling that A&M's transition to the SEC is going to be rough. The schedule will be ramped up, a new coach is implementing a new culture, and they'll be breaking in a new QB. Good luck thumbing your nose at Texas..