Texas A&M is confident about its chances this week against the reigning national champions. Just ask Jared Hocker.
The junior offensive lineman told local reporters on Monday that the No. 12 Aggies will beat No. 1 Clemson on Saturday when the two meet.
Hocker said he likes being the underdog, that "you always have something to prove," and that the Aggies are looking forward to the opportunity. When a reporter asked, "Does that make [Clemson] ripe for an upset?" Hocker responded plainly: "Yes, it does. There will be an upset."
The Aggies played the Tigers closer than anybody in the country in 2018, falling 28-26 in a nail-biter. QB Kelly Bryant -- who has since transferred to Missouri -- played the bulk of that game for Clemson, while Trevor Lawrence had just nine pass attempts and threw for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, who later met with reporters, was asked about Hocker's comments and replied, "Who said that?" When told it was Hocker, he said, "Well, Jared better play well."
"That's great that they have confidence, but that doesn't need to be said," Fisher said. "There's nothing wrong with being [confident]. If you're not confident that you're going to be successful, yes. But we understand the opponent and that comes from respect for them.
"You have a great respect for them, but you also have to go compete. Any time you line up to play, you expect to be successful. ... I'm glad they're confident, but what Jared said doesn't need to be said. ... After the first two hits of the game, that stuff all goes away anyway."
Hocker, a guard, started the first eight games of 2018 before suffering a season-ending injury. He started A&M's season-opening win over Texas State last week and has appeared in 15 games in his three-year career.