Dave Doeren hasn’t had a chance to watch much of Texas A&M this season.
The N.C. State coach did see some of the Aggies’ 74-72 septuple-overtime win over LSU on Nov. 24.
“That was a heckuva football game,” Doeren said to Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher while the two were on a conference call with the media on Sunday night.
It has been an eventful debut season with the Aggies (8-4) for Fisher, who spent the eight previous seasons at Florida State and led the Seminoles to the national title in 2013.
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The Aggies nearly beat eventual ACC champion Clemson on Sept. 8 in College Station. The Tigers escaped with a 28-26 win.
Junior running back Trayveon Williams leads the SEC with 1,524 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond has thrown for 2,967 yards with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
Texas A&M went 5-3 in SEC play with a pair of overtime wins. It also beat Kentucky, 20-14 in OT, on Oct. 6.
All three of the Aggies’ conference losses came on the road (Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State).
This is Texas A&M’s first trip to the Gator Bowl since 1957, a 3-0 loss to Tennessee. The legendary Bear Bryant was A&M’s coach in that game.
“The Gator Bowl is as good as it gets,” Fisher said.
He was an assistant at Florida State in the 2009 game, which was the last for FSU legend Bobby Bowden. FSU beat West Virginia, 33-21.
“It was a game I’ll never forget and I was so thankful that I was a part of it,” Fisher said.
This will be N.C. State’s fourth trip to the Gator Bowl and first since a 28-6 win over Notre Dame in 2003.
The Wolfpack’s first ever bowl trip was to the Gator Bowl in 1947, a 34-13 loss to Oklahoma. Dick Sheridan’s last team, in 1992, also played in the Gator Bowl, a 27-10 loss to Florida.
This is the first meeting between N.C. State and Texas A&M. The Wolfpack did face Fisher eight times while Fisher was at FSU. Fisher went 5-3 against N.C. State.
Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mike Elko has also faced N.C. State with recent stops at Wake Forest and Notre Dame.
“They’re familiar with us schematically,” Doeren said. “I haven’t seen enough of them to see how much they’ve changed.”
This is the fifth straight bowl trip for Doeren, who has a 3-1 postseason record with the Wolfpack. N.C. State has lost six of its past seven games against the SEC but beat Vanderbilt in the 2016 Independence Bowl.
Texas A&M lost to Wake Forest last year in the Belk Bowl.