No. 5 Texas A&M capped off its best season of the Jimbo Fisher era with a 41-27 win against No. 13 North Carolina in the Orange Bowl on Saturday night. It was the first New Year's Six bowl appearance for the Aggies and their biggest bowl game since the 1998 season, so to end up on the winning side puts an exclamation point on their argument as one of the best teams in the country in 2020.
Texas A&M was outstanding in the fourth quarter, storming back from on a 27-20 deficit with three quick touchdowns to close the game, the final two coming from Devon Achane. Isaiah Spiller, who had 50 yards and two touchdowns of his own in the win, was out of the game and that opened up the door for Achane, who broke the game open with his 76-yard, go-ahead score.
Achane finished the game with 140 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts, with another 24 yards on two catches through the passing game.
Texas A&M's defense also deserves a ton of credit for the way the Aggies closed the game, turning a back-and-forth affair into a double-digit win. Buddy Johnson, DeMarvin Leal and the rest of the defensive front were relentless in applying pressure to Sam Howell and stopping the rushing attack that was missing two 1,000-yard rushers in Javonte Williams and Michael Carter. Texas A&M finished game with four sacks and nine tackles for loss, providing the stops needed to seal the win against a Tar Heels offense that, while depleted, was moving the ball effectively through the first two and a half quarters of the game.
North Carolina's success early was the most notable highlight from the first half, punctuated by an absurd throw and catch from Howell to Dazz Newsome to give the Tar Heels a 13-10 lead late in the second quarter.
But Kellen Mond, who tied Johnny Manziel's school record of 93 total touchdowns with a rushing score in the fourth quarter, guided the Aggies offense right down the field for a fantastic answer to that score to take a 17-13 lead into halftime. North Carolina scored the only touchdown of the third quarter to retake the lead, forced a field goal attempt early in the fourth quarter and then scored a go-ahead touchdown on a 75-yard bomb from Howell to Josh Downs.
Texas A&M now gets to point out that it not only finished the year with just one loss, but it beat North Carolina by the same margin as Notre Dame, the team that finished one spot ahead of it in the College Football Playoff. This might be an Aggies team that felt snubbed on Selection Day, but it is set up for a top-four ranking int he final polls thanks to this performance against an entertaining Tar Heels team on the rise in the ACC.
CBS Sports was with you the entire way updating this story with the latest from the 2021 Orange Bowl with live scores, analysis and highlights for Texas A&M vs. North Carolina.