Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M has had seasons in recent memory that failed to live up to preseason hype. 2013 proves to not be one of those disappointments. Johnny Manziel puts up solid numbers in the first two games of the season, but with the games well in hand, Kevin Sumlin opts to rest Manziel leading up to a Week 3 game against Alabama.
The most hyped game of the 2013 season lives up to the billing as top-ranked Alabama challenges and sets the tone in the first half, but Manziel goes off in the second half to hand the Tide a second loss in as many seasons of the SEC era at Texas A&M. The victory places Texas A&M on top of the college football polls for the first time since 1957.
From there it is business as usual for the Aggies. There is no hangover effect against SMU the next week and a road win at Arkansas has A&M sitting at 5-0 at the first bye week. The second leg of the season presents little threat and A&M reaches LSU in late November with a perfect 10-0 record and still sitting atop the polls. With everything on the line, Manziel and the Aggies pull away from Baton Rouge with a victory to clinch a spot in the SEC Championship Game, where they go up against Georgia.
In a battle of Heisman favorite quarterbacks, Manziel gets the upper hand by out-dueling Aaron Murray and Texas A&M hands Georgia a crushing third consecutive SEC Championship Game loss. The win clinches a spot in the BCS National Championship Game and leads to Manziel winning a rare second straight Heisman Trophy. In the BCS championship game, A&M goes up against another Heisman finalist, Braxton Miller, and Ohio State. Once again, Manziel gets the last laugh in a battle of talented quarterbacks and Texas A&M wins its first BCS championship.
Rice catches Texas A&M napping in Week 1. The Owls do not pull the upset but do expose some concerns for the Aggies right out of the gate. Nick Saban pays close attention to the film and designs a game plan intended to capitalize on those weaknesses and it pays off. Alabama shuts down Manziel Mania for one week and leaves College Station with a statement 23-7 victory. SMU comes to Kyle Field the following week and shocks everybody by scoring an upset against what is now a Texas A&M team experiencing some maturity concerns. The Aggies rebound the next week at Arkansas and start to put the pieces back together for the second leg of the season.
After avoiding another upset at Ole Miss, Texas A&M appears to have everything straightened out with four straight home victories to reach the next bye week with a record of 8-2. A road game at LSU sees the Aggies once again struggle against a solid defense, and the Tigers hand Texas A&M a second division loss, removing the Aggies from the SEC Championship Game picture.
The following week, at Missouri, it is the Tigers who come up with the big plays. Receiver Dorial Green-Beckham comes through with big catches in the second half to help the Tigers defeat Texas A&M and send the Aggies to the Capital One Bowl. There the Aggies face another former Big 12 member, Nebraska.
The Huskers and Aggies go back and forth for the entire game, but Taylor Martinez busts a big run in the fourth quarter that leads to a game-winning touchdown, dropping Texas A&M to a season record of 8-5.
Kevin McGuire is the host of the No 2-Minute Warning podcast and an analyst for Bleacher Report. Follow McGuire on Twitter and Google+.