All hope is not lost for the Texas A&M Aggies.
Yes, Johnny Manziel and Co. lost a heart-breaker as the Alabama Crimson Tide came to College Station and exacted a measure of revenge for A&M's shocking upset last year.
No, the season is not even close to being over for the Aggies.
Manziel and the Aggies can learn a thing or two from Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. Not from the loss directly, but from how Alabama reacted last season after the Aggies came to town and pulled off the upset.
Alabama lost to the Aggies by five points last year while ranked No. 1 with four contests to go. How did Alabama respond? By not losing another game and outscoring the opposition 172-42. Included in those routs were No. 3 ranked Georgia and No. 1 ranked Notre Dame.
Here we are in 2013 and the inverse has occurred—except Texas A&M has nine contests remaining and will likely still be sitting inside the AP Top 10.
The formula's simple—don't lose again.
Perusing A&M's remaining schedule, there's not much there in the form of competition. That's both a good and bad thing. Ole Miss will be a tough test to start the month of October, but from there it's smooth sailing until a date with LSU at Tiger Stadium.
The lack of stiff competition means A&M should be able to finish the season without another loss. It also means the Aggies could have a hard time sneaking into the title game.
What's interesting is if both Texas A&M and Alabama go undefeated the rest of the way. The argument that we've already seen the two do battle and shouldn't happen again would be null and void with how close the contest was all the way down to the last possession.
Manziel led the Aggies to 42 points, which is the most ever allowed by an Alabama squad in the Nick Saban era. Johnny Football himself racked up 464 yards passing and five touchdowns while teaming up with receiver Mike Evans, who recorded 279 yards and a score of his own, to take advantage of Alabama's weakness—cornerback.
Outside of two foolish Manziel interceptions, this game should have played out differently. Manziel got lazy on one throw in the end zone, carelessly lofting it up to a mismatch that favored Alabama. Later Manziel forced a ball into double coverage, which Crimson Tide safety Vinnie Sunseri intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
Take away those two mistakes, which Manziel can learn from, and we're having a different discussion.
Last year Alabama suffered its defeat at the hands of the Aggies late in the season and received help after running the table in the form of losses by Oregon and Kansas State.
A&M doesn't even need that much help to get to the BCS title game. The SEC West may be lost to A&M, but a championship is not.
Such a close margin of victory this early in the season, not to mention an impressive performance, leaves the door wide open for A&M to still compete for a BCS Championship in 2013.
Manziel and the Aggies just have to keep doing what they do best.
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling
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