Texas A&M Football: SEC Releases Conference Schedule, Predictions

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistDecember 28, 2011

Texas A&M Football: SEC Releases Conference Schedule, Predictions

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    The Southeastern Conference released the 2012 conference football schedules today.

    The 2012 season will be Texas A&M's first year in the SEC, and it appears that the conference office gave the Aggies a pretty reasonable schedule for their first campaign.

    The SEC is the toughest conference in America and every game is like a war. Having said that, it is nice to not have to play multiple Top 10 teams in a row.

    The Aggies do have to play all six of their SEC West opponents in a row. They also have three road games in a row during that stretch. The Aggies have the option of adding a nonconference game or taking a bye week to break up that stretch.

    This is a look at the 2012 schedule and the expected outcomes of those games.

Nonconference Play

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    The Aggies have only two nonconference games scheduled so far for 2012.

    The Aggies will face McNeese State to open the season on September 1 at Kyle Field. They take on SMU in Dallas on September 15.

    I think it is safe to assume the Aggies will go 4-0 in their nonconference games even though the game against SMU at Ford Stadium in Dallas will be tougher than most think.

    Expect the Aggies to insert a nonconference game into the schedule on November 17 to allow them to take a bye week during the open date on October 13.

Sept. 8 Florida Gators

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    On September 8, the Aggies will play their first ever game as a member of the SEC.

    Expect a packed house at Kyle Field to witness the beginning of a new era.

    Florida struggled in 2011 under first-year head coach Will Muschamp. During the offseason the Gators lost their offensive coordinator when Charlie Weis took the Kansas head coaching gig.

    Some Gator fans may see that as addition by subtraction since Florida struggled to score points throughout 2011.

    The Gators also lose their starting quarterback and both running backs to graduation.

    I think the Ags ride the momentum of a fired-up Kyle Field to a win in a low-scoring game. Florida fans openly question whether Muschamp was the right hire after the game.

Sept. 29 Arkansas

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    It is still up in the air whether the Aggies will continue to play Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington or whether the game will be moved to home and home.

    The Aggies want the game moved to home and home so they would have a fourth conference home game in 2012.

    Arkansas returns the sledgehammer at running back that is known as Knile Davis. They also return Tyler Wilson under center. Arkansas loses three excellent senior wide receivers but will still be talented on offense.

    Davis and Wilson will be too much for the Aggies to take as they will lose to the Razorbacks.

Oct. 9 at Ole Miss

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    Ole Miss was a bad football team in 2011. The Rebels went 2-10 and cost Houston Nutt his job.

    Enter Hugh Freeze of The Blind Side fame. Freeze comes to Oxford from Arkansas State where he led the Red Wolves to a 10-2 record and the Sun Belt Conference championship. Freeze coached at Ole Miss under Ed Orgeron from 2005-2007.

    Freeze will bring a spread offensive attack to Oxford. The Ole Miss offense should remind a lot of SEC fans of the Auburn offense under Guz Malzahn.

    It will take a while for Freeze to sort out what he has in Oxford. Expect the Aggies to get their first ever road conference win in Oxford. The Rebels will not have the offensive fire power to keep up with the Aggies offense.

Oct. 20 LSU

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    The Bayou Bengals will renew their series with A&M when they travel to Kyle for the first time since 1995. Leeland McElroy and the Aggies ran all over LSU in a convincing win for the Ags that day.

    LSU loses its top two quarterbacks to graduation but returns its OL and running backs. If LSU has proven anything this year, it is that you do not need a quarterback to win in college football today if you have a dominating defense and offensive line.

    LSU will win this game as the Aggies do not match up in the trenches with the elite teams in the SEC yet.

    It should be interesting to see how Kevin Sumlin attacks the Tigers' defense in this game.

Oct. 27 at Auburn

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    The Ags will travel to the Plains to take on Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium in the third of a six-game stretch against SEC West opponents.

    Gus Malzahn took the head coaching job at Arkansas State that opened when Hugh Freeze took the Ole Miss gig. He takes with him the offense that made Auburn special.

    Auburn still has major questions at quarterback. With Malzahn gone they will not have the spread option running game that covered a lot of issues on their offense.

    Gene Chizik has to replace most of his staff. Michael Dyer's status is still up in the air for next season.

    Expect the Aggies to win this game and for the Auburn faithful to start calling for Chizik's head.

Nov. 3 at Mississippi State

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    Mississippi State was 6-6 in 2011 and will have to replace quarterback Chris Relf in 2012.

    The Aggies will travel to Starkville to take on the Bulldogs. Mississippi State struggled to score against SEC West teams in 2011. It will be interesting to see how the program develops now that Dan Mullen will have three recruiting classes on campus.

    Expect the Aggies to win a close game in Starkville as the Aggies simply have more playmakers on offense right now.

Nov. 10 at Alabama

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    Alabama and LSU are the top two teams in the country in 2011 and both will be Top Five teams in 2012.

    Much like the LSU game, the Aggies simply do not match up in the trenches with the Crimson Tide. The Aggies return their entire OL in 2012 and they will have their hands full against the Alabama front seven.

    Alabama is a truly elite program right now and Texas A&M was not even a good team in 2011. It is that simple.

    Expect Alabama to win this game by 14-20 points. If the Aggies keep it within two touchdowns, then that bodes well for the immediate future of the program.

Nov. 24 Missouri

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    Is the third time a charm?

    The Ags will face Missouri at Kyle Field for the third year in a row.The Ags lost the 2011 game in overtime. It was one among many games that the Ags lead by double digits in the second half, yet found a way to lose.

    Missouri will join the SEC in 2012 just like the Aggies, but they will play in the much weaker SEC East division. It will still be interesting to see if Henry Josey and James Franklin make it through their first SEC season without injury.

    The third time will be a charm for this Aggies squad. The seniors will get a veritable monkey off their backs and beat Missouri at Kyle Field to end their first season in the SEC.

Overall Record

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    Assuming the Ags stay healthy, then a 5-3 conference record is within reach.

    A 5-3 conference record coupled with a 4-0 record in nonconference play would make the Ags 9-3 in their first SEC season under Kevin Sumlin.

    A nine-win season would definitely exceed expectations for the Ags.

    If the Aggies go 8-4 or better in their inaugural season in the SEC, then that has to be considered a tremendous success.