What better way to welcome the Texas A&M Aggies into the SEC than by hosting the Florida Gators at College Station on Saturday afternoon.
The Gators enter the season hoping to build on last season's 7-6 campaign. They started out the year hot, winning their first four games before losing the next four and alternating between wins and losses in the final five games.
Texas A&M had its regular season debut delayed a week due to Hurricane Isaac. The Aggies were scheduled to play at Louisiana Tech on August 30 but the game was postponed. This will be the school's first game as a member of the SEC after spending 16 years in the Big 12.
Where: Kyle Field at College Station, TX
When: Saturday, September 8 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: WRUF-AM 850 (Gainesville, FL); 1620 WTAW (College Station)
Betting Line: Texas A&M (-2.5), according to Vegas Insider
Florida Injury Report (via USA Today)
Questionable: DB Jeremy Brown (Wrist);
Out: WR Michael McNeely (Foot); DE Ronald Powell (Knee)
Texas A&M Injury Report (via USA Today)
Out: RB Brandon Williams (Ineligible)
What's At Stake?
The Gators enter the season trying to find some level of consistency after last year's complete mess. They did get some love from the pollsters, as they were ranked No. 23 in both the USA Today and AP Polls.
For the Aggies, this is the chance to make a statement. They have had extra time to prepare for the game following last week's postponement, and what better way to welcome yourself into a new conference than by taking out one of the marquee programs, at least in name, right out of the gate?
Florida Player to Watch: QB Jeff Driskel
The Gators struggled against Bowling Green last week, needing two scores in the fourth quarter to seal a 27-14 victory.
Their biggest hole in that game was at quarterback, as Driskel went just 10-for-16 with 114 yards and one touchdown. He was not asked to do much, but when he did have to do something, he left a lot to be desired.
If the Gators are going to start competing for SEC titles again, they need to find a quarterback who can be a difference maker.
Texas A&M Player to Watch: QB Johnny Manziel
Ryan Tannehill spoiled the Aggies last year, throwing for over 3,700 yards and 29 touchdowns before deciding to take his talents to the NFL.
A new era at Texas A&M brings with it a new quarterback, and freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel will be taking the reins.
Florida's defense is going to come up with schemes and pressures to take Manziel out of his comfort zone early, forcing him to make adjustments. He has the talent to win a lot of games right away, though these things usually don't happen right away.
Key Matchup: Manziel vs. Florida's Secondary
We just talked about it, but with the quarterback position being so critical—and Manziel having no experience at this level—there is no battle in this game that will play a more important role.
The Aggies don't exactly come into the game without toys for Manziel to play with, as Ryan Swope enters his senior season coming off a 1,200-yard campaign in 2011.
The Gators fell apart down the stretch thanks to their offense. The defense actually performed quite well, but that unit was asked to do so much that eventually they just wore down. This is a new beginning for both teams, so who is ready to make it a good one?
As much as I think Florida will improve upon last year's inconsistencies, it takes a lot for a team to go into Kyle Field and take a victory away from the Aggies. It is going to be a close contest between two rebuilding programs, but Texas A&M gets the slight edge due to home-field advantage.
Texas A&M 24, Florida 20