Miller is one of the league's best pass rushers, a one-man wrecking crew capable of devastating an offense from the blind side. Perhaps most importantly, he's a defensive big-play threat, and the Longhorns haven't necessarily shown an ability to convert long situations. It's also important to protect quarterback Garrett Gilbert and give him the time needed to dissect what has been a pretty weak Aggie secondary at times.
Texas cornerback Aaron Williams vs. Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller
Texas has been vulnerable to big plays this season, and nobody is more equipped to make big plays than Aggie receiver Jeff Fuller. He presents a matchup problem similar to Justin Blackmon in that he's big, strong and can also outrun defensive backs who aren't careful. The Longhorns will likely try different cornerbacks on him, but the best matchup is Williams, who has excellent size for the position and can also run. If Williams can keep Fuller from getting on track, as Nebraska did last week, the Aggie scores can be kept to a minimum. That's a good thing, in that Texas doesn't necessarily have the offense to keep up in a shootout.
Few running backs in the country are playing at the level that Cyrus Gray is playing at. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in each of the last five contests, and is averaging 132 rushing yards per game since an injury sidelined back Christine Michael. He's also coming off a brilliant performance against Nebraska, where he rushed for a career-high 137 yards, the same mark he put up the previous week against Baylor. Texas, on the other hand, has given up a 100-yard rusher in each of its losses this season. The Longhorns have also been vulnerable to the big play in the running game, and will need to work hard to keep Gray from going off.
Acho played one of the finest games of his career against Florida Atlantic, racking up four tackles for loss and three sacks. Now, on Senior Day, Acho will need another strong effort to help make Aggie quarterback Ryan Tannehill uncomfortable. He'll go up against a pair of freshman tackles in Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, though neither is playing like a freshman at this point. Still, there aren't many ends in the league with the ability of Acho, who could cause all kinds of problems, and even a turnover or two, if he isn't held in check.
Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert vs. Texas A&M linebackers Michael Hodges and Garrick Williams
When the Longhorns have been most successful offensively this season, they've done so because Gilbert has presented himself as a running threat. When he's able to run, both on designed runs and on scrambles, it gives linebackers and safeties pause and opens up the middle of the field in the passing game. While Gilbert doesn't look like a great runner, he's surprisingly good at running with some strength and elusiveness. Aggie middle linebackers Michael Hodges and Garrick Williams would do well to keep one eye on the quarterback and should fill hard when they see him step up in the pocket.
X-Factor: Big Plays
The Texas defense is capable of slowing down the Aggie offense if the Longhorns can prevent big plays. And the Aggie defense is capable of slowing down the Longhorn offense if the Aggies can prevent big plays. It's a coaching cliché, but it's also true: the team with more big plays often wins a big game. When the Longhorns are involved, turnovers are also an issue.
It's been a rough season for Texas fans, but this game is exactly the type of game that the Longhorns will inexplicably show up for. So whichever way the game goes, don't expect it to be a blowout. It's also Senior Day, and the Longhorns are scrapping for a bowl berth, whereas the Aggies might have wasted a lot of emotional energy a week ago. I'm not going to go with an upset pick here, though I wouldn't be surprised if one occurred.
Texas A&M 24