The BCS rankings are upon us, and they couldn't have come at a worse time for Texas A&M. Just a day removed from a 45-41 home upset at the hands of then-No. 24 Auburn, the initial standings show the Aggies falling from the safety of the Top Ten, a position they have held since the preseason.
Looking forward, A&M has a tall task in order to reach a top-flight bowl game, much less a BCS berth. Bleacher Report breaks down the Aggies position within the initial release of the rankings, analyzing how the heavily-hyped preseason squad can find itself back in the thick of the national conversation.
|Record||AP Poll||Coaches' Poll||Strength of Schedule||BCS Ranking|
|5-2 (2-2 SEC)||14||15||28||16|
Biggest Obstacles to BCS Berth
Texas A&M closes out the season with three home games followed by two road tests. The home matchups aren't necessarily difficult, with unranked Vanderbilt, UTEP and Mississippi State visiting Kyle Field.
On the road, though, the Aggies will face No. 13 LSU at Death Valley and undefeated No. 5 Missouri at Memorial Stadium, each of which could knock A&M completely out of BCS Bowl possibilities with a loss.
Entering the season, only the LSU game presented fans with any worry, as A&M's history with the Bayou Bengals in addition to the hostility of Death Valley created a unique aura around the touted matchup.
Much like the rest of the nation, A&M has been caught by surprise with Missouri's undefeated streak so far this season, dropping SEC East powers Georgia and Florida in the past two weeks. Closing the year against the Tigers, the Aggies will be presented a challenge in James Franklin and the Mizzou air raid, with the game unlikely to end anything like last year's 59-29 win at Kyle Field.
For the Aggies to have any chance of reaching a BCS Bowl at this point, a culmination of factors must befall the SEC. As unlikely as it may be, consider the total chaos that has engulfed the league the past two weeks, and the odds become more favorable.
After Ole Miss' defeat of LSU this past Saturday, A&M needs the Rebels to continue putting up strong showings the remainder of the season. With the Aggies' dramatic last-second 41-38 win over Ole Miss still fresh in many minds, the Rebels' success could be key to A&M's position in the bowl season.
Additionally, with both No. 11 Auburn and top-ranked Alabama defeating A&M, the Aggies would be well-suited with each winning out, with the Crimson Tide eventually downing the Tigers in the season-ending Iron Bowl. Auburn's unprecedented success this season peaked this past weekend at Kyle Field with a 45-41 victory over A&M, but continuous winning down the stretch against Tennessee, Georiga and Arkansas will provide context to exactly how talented the Tigers are, especially against other SEC powers.
As for LSU, the Bayou Bengals offer a serious challenge for A&M when hosting the Aggies at Death Valley on Nov. 23. If the Tigers finish the season with losses to Alabama and A&M, the boost would allow the Aggies to surge in the rankings.
With A&M's current SEC locked-rival and former Big 12 member Missouri hosting the Aggies to close the season, it would only help A&M if Mizzou won out until the Thanksgiving weekend matchup. With A&M having no defeats of Top 5 squads, taking down the Tigers on their home turf to end the year will give voters a fresh picture of just how solid A&M is as a unit.
|vs. Vanderbilt||Oct. 26 — Kyle Field|
|vs. UTEP||Nov. 2 — Kyle Field|
|vs. Mississippi State||Nov. 9 — Kyle Field|
|@ No. 13 LSU||Nov. 23 — Tiger Stadium|
|@ No. 5 Missouri||Nov. 30 — Memorial Stadium|
The Big Picture
Overall, facing off against LSU in a marquee game at Death Valley and at a possibly undefeated Missouri squad at Memorial Stadium to close the season is exactly the situation head coach Kevin Sumlin and A&M want to be in—they will control their own destiny.
The Auburn and Alabama losses are behind the Aggies, with nothing they can change about the down-to-the-wire defeats. Victories on the road against two BCS-ranked squads presents A&M with the opportunity to make a fresh impression on voters before the conference championship weekend and the bowl season.
Final Bowl Prediction
Texas A&M will close the season 4-1 with a tough season-ending loss to Missouri; however, with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel in arguably his last year on campus due to the call of the NFL, top SEC-related bowl games will battle for rights to his last game sporting maroon and white.
As such, Manziel and Texas A&M will take a repeat visit to Dallas, Texas for the Cotton Bowl.