The Texas A&M Aggies had their first game postponed due to a hurricane, and their first official game was a 20-17 loss to the Florida Gators. This isn't exactly how the Aggies wanted to start their inaugural season in the SEC.
SMU will be the Aggies opponent in Week 3, and its season hasn't started ideally either.
The Mustangs blew Stephen F. Austin away 52-0 in Week 2, but that just brought the team even. They were throttled by Baylor 59-24 in Week 1.
This game represents an opportunity for one of these teams to establish some momentum. Here is a close look at this Texas matchup.
When: September 15, 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, TX
Live Stream: Audio via Sirius XM online
Radio: WTAW 1620 in College Station, 1310 AM in Dallas
Odds: Texas A&M (-13) per Oddsshark.com
Texas A&M Aggies
Brandon Williams - RB - Out For Season (eligibility)
What's At Stake
If the Aggies are to make anything of their first SEC season, they can't afford to lose this game. This isn't a conference foe, but starting the season 0-2 before they hit the uninterrupted conference schedule would be terrible.
They didn't have a horrible showing against No. 24 Florida. They need to use that game as a building block, and this game as a stepping stone.
The Mustangs need to find some consistency. They need to prove that this year's team is not just capable of blowing out smaller programs from the Southland Conference. This needs to be statement game for the Mustangs.
What They're Saying
Randy Harvey of the Houston Chronicle is looking at the Aggies' start with the glass half-full. He wrote this about Texas A&M's start:
Not only did the Aggies slug it out with Florida before losing 20-17, it seems like a blessing now they didn’t have to open with Louisiana Tech. The postponement until Oct. 21 gives the Aggies more time to prepare for one of the few Air Raid offenses clicking this season under coach Sonny Dykes.
That may be the case, but the Aggies would be wise not to overlook the Mustangs. SMU is an explosive offense averaging over 30 points per game. The Mustangs quarterback is former Texas Longhorn Garrett Gilbert.
He started his collegiate career at Texas, but he transferred to SMU in 2010. He has big game experience against major programs.
There is no doubt the Aggies are more talented, but last Saturday's Arkansas and Louisiana-Monroe game showed us that talent isn't everything.
Mustangs defensive end Margus Hunt set the NCAA record with his ninth-career blocked field goal. He was asked what the record meant to him in the video below (via YouTube.com):
He said: "It's fun. It was a team effort and I definitely couldn't have done it by myself."
Instead of trying to deliver this ultra-passionate and poignant post-game interview, I'll let you watch it here:
I kid about Hunt's enthusiasm and willingness to share information, but his Mustangs may need him or another player on the special teams to turn Saturday's game in their favor.
Player to Watch
Texas A&M - Johnny Manziel
The Aggies' freshman quarterback has been a solid game manager thus far this season. He hasn't thrown a touchdown pass, but he's been incredibly efficient. He hasn't thrown an interception, and he has an amazing 76.7 completion percentage.
He certainly isn't going to lose any games for his team playing that way. However, he'll need to show he can win a game for his team at some point.
It may as well come this Saturday at SMU.
SMU - Garrett Gilbert
Gilbert has been around awhile.
The knock on him has always been the interceptions and poor decisions. In his career he's thrown 16 touchdown passes, and a woeful 26 interceptions. He has thrown three scores and three picks so far this season.
If the Mustangs are to have any chance of pulling the upset, Gilbert must take care of the ball.
Key Matchup - SMU's Offensive Line vs. Texas A&M's Pass Rush
For Gilbert, it all starts with pass-protection. When he sets his feet and steps into his throws he's much better, like most quarterbacks. When he's on the run is when balls tend to sail, and he makes poor decisions.
The big uglies upfront will have to give him time to throw the ball. That could prove to be an issue as the Aggies' defense sacked Gators' quarterback Jeff Driskel eight times in Week 2.
Part of that was due to Driskel's inexperience under center, but the pressure was still there. The Mustangs can't afford to see Gilbert eating the dirt that often.
The Aggies will win this game, but the Mustangs will keep it competitive at home. Expect the Aggies to pull away in the second half after forcing a few turnovers.
I predict a 37-20 victory for Texas A&M.
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