NCAA – What Chris Is Watching – 10/26/14 – (4) Texas A&M vs (11) South Carolina

(4) Texas A&M vs (11) South Carolina – 5:00 PM

Texas A&M enters their penultimate match of the regular season with the opportunity to clinch at least a share of the regular season title with a win against visiting South Carolina on Sunday afternoon. With just one blemish on their league record, the Aggies have taken full advantage of Florida’s nightmare last weekend to take full control of the league title race. The Aggies have home advantage these last two matches, but there’s no way it’ll be a walk in the park considering South Carolina is battling for a high national seed, while Georgia is trying to avert a late season collapse off the bubble. A&M hasn’t had a problem with the Gamecocks since joining the SEC, winning all three meetings, including last season’s in the SEC Tournament. For form, the Aggies are are smoking, with five straight wins since their only league loss to Florida. Arkansas was probably a little trickier than expected, but the Aggies still managed the breakthrough in the second half through Janae Cousineau and Annie Kunz before frustratingly getting pegged back for one goal late by Arkansas after a corner kick. Keeping it tight on set pieces is going to be a key for A&M, as South Carolina has traditionally been a monster from dead ball situations. From open play, Texas A&M hasn’t been shutout in any match besides the Florida defeat, and have scored multiple goals in the last five wins. But though A&M will fancy shootouts with anyone given their offense, the club’s defense has been leaking goals all league season. They have just two clean sheets in SEC play, and one of those was against Mississippi State. In a match that could be balanced on a razor’s edge, tightening that defense up might be the difference between victory and defeat.

After a superb home weekend that saw them beat Florida and Ole Miss, South Carolina reverted to their inconsistent ways on Friday, slumping to a disappointing draw against Vanderbilt. The dropped points could prove immensely costly in the long-term, as SC currently sits in seventh in the league, out of position for a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. Odds to go all the way in Orange Beach obviously drop like a stone without said bye, so the Gamecocks will be under pressure to climb the league ladder in the final week. Raina Johnson gave Carolina a 1-0 lead against Vandy, but the club, uncharacteristically, let it slip late and couldn’t find a winner despite a statistical advantage in many categories. It only underlined the club’s woes on the road in the league. Since winning the opener at Auburn, the Gamecocks have gone 0-1-2 away from home in SEC matches, and the club hasn’t faced any of the top teams on the road. Mississippi State at home in the regular season finale should be a gimme. But that alone might not be enough to ensure the club isn’t playing on Monday in Orange Beach, so anything the club can get against Texas A&M would be a huge boost. That’s easier said than done against the streaking Aggies though.

Other Matches to Watch

(20) Virginia Tech vs (9) Virginia – 5:00 PM
(41) Arizona State vs (1) Stanford – 4:00 PM
(25) Arizona vs (19) Cal – 4:00 PM
(44) Utah vs (15) Washington State – 3:00 PM
(35) Georgia vs (28) Kentucky – 6:00 PM
(7) West Virginia vs (57) Oklahoma – 1:00 PM
(52) Colorado vs (13) Washington – 3:00 PM
(60) Minnesota vs (22) Rutgers – 2:00 PM
(40) Auburn vs (45) Alabama – 4:00 PM
(49) San Diego vs (58) Santa Clara – 4:00 PM
(59) Buffalo vs (56) Miami (OH) – 12:00 PM

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