Texas A&M vs. Colorado score, takeaways: Backup QB Zach Calzada leads Aggies rally to avoid upset

No. 5 Texas A&M barely escaped a trip to Mile High Stadium and avoided an upset, taking its first lead of the game in the final minutes of a 10-7 win against Colorado on Saturday. 

Karl Dorrell's Buffaloes grabbed the lead with a touchdown drive late in the first quarter and held that advantage until the 2:41 mark in the fourth quarter when Aggies backup quarterback Zach Calzada evaded pressure and delivered a touchdown strike to running back Isaiah Spililer on a wheel route out of the backfield. The score completed a critical 11-play, 77-yard drive that included multiple third-down conversions for an offense that had struggled to extend drives for much of the game. 

Calzada being in the game at all is a result of the biggest development for Texas A&M -- both in this game and for the season. Starting quarterback Haynes King left with what appeared to be a leg injury in the first quarter after just two pass attempts and was replaced by Calzada, who finished the game with 183 yards on 18-of-38 passing with another 29 rushing yards on seven attempts. Texas A&M only confirmed that King was ruled out for the rest of the game with a lower leg injury, but the quarterback was spotted on the sideline without pads, wearing a walking boot and using a pair of crutches. 

For Colorado, the result is incredibly disappointing considering how long it controlled the game. The Buffs seemed happy to play field position as long as Texas A&M continued to struggle on third downs, and eventually that stout defense wore down to where it could not defend a lead with just one touchdown of offense. 

Here are three things to know about the game: 

Calzada nearly had another go-ahead TD

One of the biggest moments in the game came early in the fourth when Texas A&M's would-be touchdown to take the lead was reversed into an Aggies fumble and touchback for Colorado. With about nine minutes remaining in the game, Calzada took off from the 12-yard line on third down and powered his way into the end zone. However, he lost possession of the ball as extended it to cross the plane of the end zone, and Colorado recovered the loose ball. 

On top of that, A&M committed a post-play personal foul penalty, which boosted Colorado's field position after the touchback. In the moment, it seemed like the kind of swing could have decided the game, but credit to Texas A&M's defense for getting the stops it needed. 

Colorado will be a tough out in the Pac-12

Dorrell's group wanted a shot to win in the fourth quarter and that's exactly what they had on Saturday. The Buffs have a deep running back room that ran the ball well, with not only 2020 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year Jarek Broussard, but also Alex Fontenont and Ashaad Clayton, a talented freshman out of New Orleans. Clayton only had three carries, but he could be a bigger factor as the season rolls along. Throw in quarterback Brandon Lewis' ability to run, and this is a team that can cause problems by beating opponents up at the line of scrimmage. 

This is not a team that wins at the perimeter, especially against Texas A&M. So while it was fine to play field position and rely on the defense for much of the game, the inability to add a second score to the tally prevented the Buffs from pulling off the top-five upset. Colorado will be a tough out for Pac-12 South hopefuls like USC, UCLA, Utah and Arizona State, but winning those games will require more success through the passing game. 

A&M is not a balanced SEC contender ... yet 

The talent on Mike Elko's defense was on full display for three scoreless quarters after falling behind 7-0. While Texas A&M struggled early in third down situations, it wasn't like Colorado was doing much better, finishing 4-for-14 on third down for the game. That group was put in a tough position all day and it continued to answer the call. If Texas A&M can install a game plan with Calzada that leads to more success, maybe we talk about the Aggies being as close to Alabama as they are in the polls. For now, there's a noticeable tier between these two SEC West frontrunners. And it all starts with the offensive side of the ball and the quarterback position. 

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SAT 3:30 P
COLO +17, o50.5
FOX
COLO 17, O/U 50.5

Season Leaders

passing
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Z. Calzada 1364 YD, 12 TDS, 7 INTS
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Z. Calzada 1364 YD, 12 TDS, 7 INTS
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B. Lewis 792 YD, 4 TDS, 3 INTS
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B. Lewis 792 YD, 4 TDS, 3 INTS
rushing
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I. Spiller 123 ATT, 761 YD, 5 TDS
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I. Spiller 123 ATT, 761 YD, 5 TDS
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J. Broussard 84 ATT, 337 YD, 2 TDS
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J. Broussard 84 ATT, 337 YD, 2 TDS
receiving
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J. Wydermyer 25 REC, 353 YD, 4 TDS
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J. Wydermyer 25 REC, 353 YD, 4 TDS
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B. Rice 12 REC, 178 YD, 1 TD
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B. Rice 12 REC, 178 YD, 1 TD
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@AggieFootball via Twitter
September 11, 2021, 11:09 PM
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@AggieFootball via Twitter
September 11, 2021, 10:47 PM
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TOUCHDOWN TEXAS A&M -- Calzada evades pressure from Colorado and delivers a STRIKE to Isaiah Spiller in the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. Aggies now lead 9-7 with an extra point to make this a field goal game. That 57 minutes of football before Texas A&M found the end zone, and 57 minutes of football before the Texas A&M had a lead in this game. Now 10-7 Aggies 

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Well Texas A&M's defense did its job, getting off the field and giving the ball back to the offense with 8 minutes remaining. That's plenty of time to work down the field and get another shot at a go-ahead score, so let's see if Zach Calzada can recapture the magic of that last drive. 

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Arguably the biggest moment of the game right there. Calzada's go-ahead touchdown is overturned into a Texas A&M fumble and a touchback for Colorado. On top of that is the personal foul facemask penalty that was set to be enforced on the point-after try and now is awarded to the Buffs offense as they take over possession. 

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TOUCHDOWN TEXAS A&M is the call on the field. But Zach Calzada's extension to cross the plane on a run might result in a fumble and Colorado recovery. Absolutely huge review here coming from the officials 

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Zach Calzada made a play with his legs and now he's got one of his first explosive plays through the passing game on a deep pass for star tight end Jalen Wydermyer. The quarterback and tight end will not look to punch in a go-ahead touchdown here in the early 4Q with the ball in the red zone. 

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Colorado's special teams have been fantastic, especially with coverage. Texas A&M has some of the most dangerous returners in the country and part of the Buffs being able to play field position is the fact they routinely have pinned the Aggies as far as back as the punt would make possible. 

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Colorado remains more than happy to play field position as Texas A&M comes up with a third down stop to close out a scoreless third quarter. Running the ball well and playing defense has put the Buffs here in a position to beat a top-five opponent on a "home" field -- playing at Mile High Stadium -- but that defense has to hold up because it looks like Colorado might finish with 14 points or less. 

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September 11, 2021, 9:49 PM
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