Texas A&M Season Preview

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

2013 Texas A&M Aggies Season Preview

Texas A&M is 9 to 1 to win the BCS Championship this season, making them the 4th biggest favorite on the board, behind Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State. When you were the only team to beat Alabama last year and your quarterback is a returning Heisman winner–hopes are going to be high.

They were 11-2 last season under 2nd year head coach Mike Sumlin. This is a man who knows how to run an offense and 2013 should see more of the same. Against the two top powers in the conference, they beat Alabama and lost by a narrow 5 points to LSU. In their only other 2012 loss, they dropped the season opener to Florida by a field goal. So, when looking at it, they weren’t that far off in 2012 from running the table.

Texas A&M gets Alabama in their third game this season. After hosting what should be breezes against Rice and Sam Houston State, they get Alabama at home on September 14. It’s a huge game, where a lot of this year’s story will be told. Two winnable games later, they face a tough road game against Ole Miss, who they beat by a mere field goal last season. To get into the SEC title game, they’re probably going to have to beat LSU on the road in their second-to-last game of the year.

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There are some tough spots in the schedule for Texas A&M, but it’s not too bad. The LSU road game late looms as a big obstacle, but at least they get Alabama at home, after beating them on the road in 2012. There are 6 teams on the schedule who they smoked in 2012. Barring anything unforeseen, that really boils it all down to Alabama in September, Ole Miss in October, and LSU in late November. That’s two teams they beat last year and another they lost to by 5 that lost a ton on players in the offseason in LSU.

This offseason, football fans heard a lot of negative stuff about Manziel. It’s important to note the time we live in, where any transgression is fodder for the media. Manziel is certainly not the only youngster to foul up from time to time, but athletes in the past were spared this type of public and media scrutiny. It might serve to paint an inaccurate picture, where people think Manziel is some kind of playboy maximizing his status as a Heisman Trophy winner.

That image might detract from reality. By all accounts, Manziel’s offseason work was valuable, as he went the extra mile to improve upon his already-considerable success. And when a guy throws for 3706 yards and runs for another 1410 and 21 touchdowns–that’s a scary thought. Defenses might be better-prepared, but Manziel should be as good as he was last year, if not better.

There are issues of concern. They are returning fewer starters than any team in the SEC. While one shouldn’t too heavily question their recruiting ability, is it on par with conference stalwarts like LSU and the Tide? So maybe a wait-and-see approach is needed to see how well these youngsters will be performing in critical roles. They lost a dynamite tackle in Luke Joeckel, but still have Jake Matthews, who moves in from the right side and should be one of the best in the game. Don’t expect this front line to just fall apart.

A lot is riding on the shoulders of Manziel. He is only 20 and it’s a lot different when the target is on your back. Last season, the freshman took the college football world by surprise and Texas A&M isn’t going to be sneaking up on anyone this year. Still, look for the gutsy and smart playmaker to have another banner year.

Sometimes when the hype is so strong, it’s a lot harder to live up to it. When you’re known as Johnny Football, it’s a good sign that the hype machine is in full effect. It might actually be appropriate in this case. As a freshman, he was incredible and added maturity and experience shouldn’t hurt. When looking at their schedule and potential, it outweighs their personnel losses. Their position as the 4th favorite to take the whole thing this year is probably just about right. Look for the Aggies to be right in the mix right up until the very end.

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