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NCAAF: Texas A&M out of Gator Bowl due to COVID-19 issues, injuries

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No. 25 Texas A&M on Wednesday announced it has opted against competing versus No. 17 Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl, citing a combination of COVID-19 issues as well as injuries.

Gator Bowl officials are seeking a replacement to face the Demon Deacons (10-3) on Dec. 31 in Jacksonville, Fla.

“We are disappointed that Texas A&M University and the Aggie fans will be unable to represent the Southeastern Conference in Jacksonville at this year’s TaxSlayer Gator Bowl game,” Gator Bowl chairman John Duce said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and staff remains our primary concern.”

“It is unfortunate, but we just don’t have enough scholarship players available to field a team,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said.

According to The Athletic, one option the Gator Bowl has weighed is whether to match Wake Forest with a team that has already played in a bowl game this month. Any team seeking to be considered as A&M’s replacement would need NCAA approval to play a second bowl game.

Texas A&M (8-4) began the season by winning seven of its first nine games. It has since dropped two of its last three, including a 27-24 decision to LSU on Nov. 27.

“It is heartbreaking for our players, coaches, staff and fans that we are not able to play in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl,” Aggies athletic director Ross Bjork said. “Postseason football is the pinnacle of the season and when the opportunity is lost, it hurts on many levels. As we have learned in the last 21 months of this health challenge, the well-being and safety of our student-athletes is paramount.”

In addition, four Texas A&M underclassmen have declared for the NFL Draft and were skipping the game. The list includes guard Kenyon Green, defensive lineman DeMarvin Leal, running back Isaiah Spiller and tight end Jalen Wydermyer. Also, starting quarterback Zach Calzada, who starred in the upset of then-No. 1 Alabama in October, entered the transfer portal.

–Field Level Media

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