Texas A&M Out of Gator Bowl Due to COVID-19: Possible Replacements & Spread vs. Wake Forest
Photo by Alex Bierens de Haan/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimbo Fisher
Texas A&M has pulled out of the Gator Bowl against Wake Forest due to a combination of COVID-19 and season-ending injuries.
The Aggies were listed as 3.5-point favorites as the news broke, with bets now being canceled based on the decision. Because of the amount of COVID-19 cases on the team, there wouldn’t have been enough players to play the game. Jimbo Fisher said the team was down to 38 scholarship players and only 13 on defense due to injuries and COVID-19.
The Gator Bowl will surely look to replace Texas A&M, but that will be easier said than done. It will take another bowl to be canceled for a replacement team to be found, a 5-7 team to accept an offer or a team to take on a second bowl game. According to McMurphy, Illinois would accept a bid if asked.
One speculative possibility is Washington State. The Cougars are set to face Miami in the Sun Bowl, but the Hurricanes entered COVID-19 protocols on Tuesday, leaving their status in question for the Dec. 31 game.
If Washington State is named a replacement, The Action Network’s Collin Wilson makes Wake Forest a 3-point favorite.
Wilson makes Wake a favorite against a host of possibilities including Illinois (-11), UAB (-6), Coastal Carolina (-2.5) Western Kentucky (-2), Liberty (-8.5), Utah State (-9.5), Old Dominion (-16) and Army (-8.5).
McMurphy also reported Rutgers declined and the Gator Bowl could replace Texas A&M with a 5-7 team — but there are others that are not expected to accept an invitation.
“How many 5-7 teams have been practicing or are still in school? None,” a source told McMurphy.
Gator Bowl could have replaced Texas A&M w/a 5-7 team based on APR, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. Rutgers had 1st option, but declined. Other not expected to accept. “How many 5-7 teams have been practicing or are still in school? None,” source said
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 22, 2021
The Demon Deacons finished the year 10-3, including a 7-1 mark in the ACC. Washington State was 7-5 while dealing with the firing of head coach Nick Rolovich after he refused to get vaccinated, which was required by a state mandate.
As always, there’s financial motivation for the game to be played. According to SI, the payout for the teams in the Gator Bowl is over $5 million.