2012 Recap: New coach. New quarterback. New conference. New hotness. Texas A&M joined the SEC and surpassed even the rosiest of expectations. The Aggies went 11-2, beating BCS champ Alabama in Tuscaloosa and crushing Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Their freshman quarterback, Johnny Manziel, won the Heisman trophy. Kevin Sumlin is now on NFL radars. That said, the Aggies did not come out of nowhere. They were perhaps college football’s unluckiest team in 2011, losing five games by one score. The veteran core of that team undoubtedly aided their 2012 ascension.
Johnny Effing Football: Johnny Manziel has had quite the nine-month offseason. To save an afternoon of copying and pasting, here are the highlights. With the punishment impotent and the NCAA cloud evaporated, it should be all champagne corks, fireworks and sex in College Station.
Offense: Not really much to worry about here. Manziel will do Manziel things. The offensive line may regress, from a Top 5 to a Top 20 unit. Malena and Trey Williams provide an excellent tailback tandem. They bring back 6’5″ favored target Mike Evans and a raft of four-star receiver recruits. They lose some definite swag with Kliff Kingsbury’s departure, but that transition should not be a mortal wound.
Defense: A fair amount to worry about here. The Aggies basically have to rebuild their front seven. They will have multiple freshmen in the two deep at defensive tackle. They lose virtually their entire pass rush with the departure of Damontre Moore. Steven Jenkins, two sacks in 2012, is their most prolific sack artist returning. This looks like a definite bottom half of the SEC-type unit this season. They more score enough where that does’t matter.
Ceiling: 12-0. Manziel has another 2012 caliber season. The defense is an afterthought. The Aggies win a close one over Alabama at home, fend off a few more challengers and roll through to the SEC title game.
Floor: 8-4. There isn’t that far too fall with a relatively benign schedule. A rash of injuries. The defense is a disaster. A&M drops the games to Alabama and LSU. Drops two more conference games. The Aggies await the Sumlin recruits stepping forward in 2014. Under this scenario, he will still be around to coach them.
Prediction: 11-1. They lose a close game to Alabama in September, build momentum afterward and dump an offensively challenged LSU on the road to close out the season. They don’t reach the SEC title game, but are a shoo-in for a BCS bowl bid.
25. USC Trojans 24. Miami Hurricanes 23. Northwestern Wildcats 22. Oregon State Beavers 21. Nebraska Cornhuskers 20. Texas Longhorns 19. Louisville Cardinals 18. Baylor Bears 17. Michigan Wolverines 16. TCU Horned Frogs 15. Oklahoma Sooners 14. Clemson Tigers 13. Florida State Seminoles 12. LSU Tigers 11. Boise State Broncos 10. Florida Gators 9. Oklahoma State Cowboys 8. Georgia Bulldogs 7. Notre Dame Fighting Irish 6. South Carolina Gamecocks