Breaking Down Texas A&M's Spot in the BCS Rankings

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistOctober 15, 2012

Breaking Down Texas A&M's Spot in the BCS Rankings

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    The first BCS poll of the season was released today with Alabama ranked No. 1 as expected. The Texas A&M Football team checked in at No. 18, which is a slight surprise considering they are ranked No. 19 and No. 20 in the USA Today and AP polls.

    The Aggies are coming off a 59-57 shootout victory over previously undefeated Louisiana Tech in Shreveport. It was the Aggies' fifth consecutive win of the season after they lost their season opener 20-17 to Florida.

    The ranking of No. 18 is the highest rank that the Aggies have achieved in any poll this season. The Ags will face No. 6 LSU on Saturday in College Station.

    This is a breakdown of Texas A&M's BCS ranking.

BCS Indicates the Strength of the Aggies' Schedule

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    It should come as no surprise, but the BCS has a decided SEC feel to it. The Aggies are the lowest-ranked team from the Southeastern Conference at No. 18. There are six other teams from the SEC raked in the BCS top 25.

    Alabama and Florida have the top two spots. The Aggies' next opponent, LSU, checks in at No. 6. South Carolina is No. 7, Georgia is No. 11 and Mississippi State is No. 12.

    In their first season in the Southeastern Conference, the Aggies will face four teams ranked in the top 12 of the BCS rankings. The Aggies have already played No. 2 Florida. They will play LSU, Alabama and Mississippi State in the next six weeks.

    This is one of the toughest schedules in the nation.

Are the Aggies over-Ranked?

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    Are the Aggies over-ranked at No. 18? Their 5-1 record indicates that they are a top-20 team. However, there are still some major issues with this squad.

    The defense has struggled to stop the pass all season. With the Ags' best defensive back Deshazor Everett injured and out for an indefinite amount of time, their struggles against the pass may continue.

    The Aggies have good rushing statistics but have struggled to run the ball when everyone knows they need to run it.

    There are flaws in this team. The Aggies are most like a seven- to eight-win team. If they win eight games and a bowl game then they will likely finish the season ranked in the top 25. Right now, this is not a top-20 football team.

The Manziel Factor

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    Texas A&M's redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel may be the most dynamic football player in the nation. The Aggies are never out of the game as long as Manziel is under center.

    On the road at Oxford, Miss., Manziel led the Aggies back from a 10-point deficit with eight minutes left in the game. He led the Aggies on consecutive touchdown drives in a 30-27 Aggie victory.

    While the Aggies are probably not a top-20 team right now, it is hard to vote against them with Manziel on the team. No one has been able to contain him yet, but he has games coming up against the two best defenses in the SEC in LSU and Alabama.

    With Manziel on the field, the possibility always exists that the Ags can outscore any team they face.

Best-Case Scenario?

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    In theory the Ags could address their issues and find a way to win the last six games on their schedule. If the Ags run the table, they will finish the season with a 11-1 record and a spot in the SEC title game.

    If they won that game, they would play for their first national championship since 1939. One of the biggest reasons the Aggies joined the SEC was because of the increase in prestige it would bring to the university's athletic programs. 

    The best-case scenario would have the Aggies playing in the national title game as a one-loss team. That is possible because the Ags face such a tough regular-season schedule in the SEC.

Realistic Expectations

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    The Ags are a flawed team and will face two of the top six teams in the BCS poll within the next six weeks. They are not likely going to win their next six games in a row.

    Best-case scenario for the Aggies is that Manziel continues to improve as the season goes on, and the defense gets better at tackling. If Manziel begins to master the offense and the defense remains steady, then the Aggies should be able to win three of their last six games.

    Realistically the Aggies should be expected to win at Auburn, and at home against Sam Houston State and Missouri. A win in Starkville, Miss. against Mississippi State is not out of the question if A&M keeps getting better.

    An eight-win season is a reasonable expectation for this Aggie team.