Texas A&M Football: Power Ranking the Aggies' Toughest Road Games of 2013
The Texas A&M football team has a tough road schedule in 2013. While the Aggies only play four road games, all four are at challenging venues against Southeastern Conference opponents.
The Aggies have a favorable 2013 slate with eight home games. After playing six games on the road in 2012, it is a welcome change for Texas A&M players and fans.
When you have national championship aspirations, the way the schedule breaks down is very important. The Aggies are in the hunt for a national title in 2013 with a preseason ranking in the top 10.
If they take care of business on the field, they will find themselves in the BCS title game in January, but first the Aggies need to navigate their road schedule.
This is a look at Texas A&M's 2013 road schedule.
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The Aggies travel to Faurot Field to take on Missouri during their last game of the regular season. If the Aggies perform the way they are capable of performing up to that point, the A&M vs. Missouri game will be for a spot in the SEC Championship Game.
Missouri suffered through a 5-7 season during its first year in the SEC in 2012. The Tigers struggled to deal with a variety of injuries and to adjust to the physical play of their new conference.
In 2013, senior quarterback James Franklin is back and healthy. Franklin struggled with injuries throughout the 2012 season, but when he is healthy, he is one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation.
In a 2011 38-31 overtime win in College Station, Franklin led the Tigers with 198 yards passing and 97 yards rushing. Franklin scored four total touchdowns in the game.
Missouri running back Henry Josey is back for the 2013 season. He sat out the entire 2012 season while recovering from knee surgery. Before his injury, Josey was one of the top speed-backs in the nation.
Dorial Green-Beckham returns for his sophomore season with the Tigers. The former No. 1-ranked recruit in the country caught 28 passes for 395 yards and five touchdowns in 2012.
Missouri has the skill position talent on offense to stay with any team on its schedule. The question will be whether or not its defense can stop anyone and whether or not it can remain healthy.
Faurot Field is not an easy place to play. When 71,004 fans cram into the stadium, it can get very loud. The Aggies have not won a game in Columbia since 1999.
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The Aggies have not played a game in Fayetteville, Arkansas since 1990 when they defeated the Razorbacks 20-16. In 1990, both teams were members of the Southwest Conference; now they are both members of the Southeast Conference.
All SEC road games are tough, but games in Fayetteville are particularly tough. Arkansas is a one-school state and its fans come from all over to "call the Hogs" on Saturdays.
When Arkansas gets rolling on the field, its 72,000 fans can get very loud. 2013 will be a transitional season for the Hogs, as they switch over to head coach Bret Bielema's run-based offense.
This is a game that the Aggies should win, but the fans in the stands will not make it easy.
2. Ole Miss
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Travelling to Oxford, Mississippi has always conjured pleasant connotations for college football fans. The Ole Miss Rebels have not been consistently good on the field for decades, and the tailgating and scenery off the field always made the trip worth the effort.
While the off-field activities should remain the same, the on-field product in Oxford is improving. Ole Miss head coach Hugh Freeze has the trajectory of the program pointing upward.
Freeze led Ole Miss to a 7-6 record and a bowl victory during his first season on campus. He restored a sense of pride to the program that is apparent in the players' effort on the field.
The Rebels are solid at all the skill positions, with Bo Wallace at quarterback, Jeff Scott at running back and Donte Moncrief at wide receiver. Each of the three will compete for All-SEC honors in 2013.
Ole Miss received a talent boost with its 2013 recruiting class. The class, which 247Sports.com ranked No. 4 in the nation, will provide a lot of freshmen who will see the field immediately in 2013.
Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, where Ole Miss plays, will remind Aggie fans of Baylor's Floyd Casey Stadium. But, like Baylor, the Ole Miss fans typically fail to fill the stadium's 60,580 seats.
However, the fans are so close to the field that when the home team starts playing well, the crowd can get very loud and provide the Rebels with a tremendous home-field advantage.
The Aggies committed six turnovers during a 30-27 win in Oxford in 2012. Do not expect A&M to turn the ball over as much in 2013, despite facing a stronger Rebels team than it did last year.
1. Louisiana State
LSU vs. A&M in 2012
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LSU plays its home games in Death Valley, which is consistently ranked among the toughest venues in the nation to play a road game at. Aside from the fact that you have to deal with an LSU football team that has been among the best in the nation since Les Miles took over as head coach, you also have to deal with the 92,000-plus Tiger fans who cram into the stadium on Saturdays to cheer their team on.
The tailgating at LSU is legendary. Home fans spend all day getting "lubed up" to cheer for their Tigers.
LSU lost many members of its 2012 squad to the draft. With 10 juniors leaving the program early, there are some holes on the Tigers' roster.
However, Miles has always been all about running the ball and controlling the clock. The offensive line returns three starters, including the talented La'el Collins. Because of this, LSU's running game should show improvement in 2013. Meanwhile, the LSU defense is going to be tough as long as John Chavis is employed as the defensive coordinator in Baton Rouge.
LSU may struggle early in the season as new players adjust to new roles, but by the time the Aggies come to town on November 23, the Tigers should have all the kinks worked out. This matchup in Baton Rouge represents the toughest road game on the Aggies' schedule in 2013.