Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher knew what he was doing. As the final seconds of an Orange Bowl victory following the 2020 season ticked away, Fisher gave a little fist pump before he began to look around defensively.

As Fisher jogged to midfield he spotted what he was looking for: players holding a Gatorade jug, charging toward him. Showing a burst of speed, Fisher outran the would-be green bath, and even though the effort resulted in a bit of a limp, the large grin on his face remained.

The Aggies seemed on the cusp of breaking through after the 41-27 victory over North Carolina and a No. 4 ranking to end the pandemic-shortened season, their highest ranking since 1939. To this day, Fisher insists they were the second-best team in the country and should have made the College Football Playoff. Nothing will convince him otherwise.

While that great debate will live on in Texas A&M lore, what was not up for discussion on Jan. 2, 2021 was this: The Aggies appeared ready to break into college football's most rarefied air, fulfilling the massive expectations that came with handing Fisher an unprecedented 10-year, $75 million contract just a few years before.

"I'm gonna tell you this," Fisher said after the Orange Bowl victory. "We ain't done yet."

Since then, however, things have started to unravel. Texas A&M has opened each of the past two seasons ranked No. 6 in the preseason polls and is only 11-6 over that time. It is currently unranked, following losses to Appalachian State and Mississippi State, and heads into Tuscaloosa on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, CBS) to face No. 1 Alabama at a disappointing 3-2.

Suddenly, a game that once looked like a potential top-10 showdown and the first meeting of Fisher and Saban since their offseason war of words has taken on a very different meaning. The Aggies are losing games they shouldn't, Fisher's offense is the primary culprit and his post-Orange Bowl contract extension means his buyout will remain above $50 million until 2027, per USA Today. It has left some in College Station wondering whether they're getting enough return for their hefty investment.