After a 2012 season that included a Heisman Trophy, a thrilling victory over Alabama and a Cotton Bowl blowout against ex-Big 12 foe Oklahoma, Texas A&M was on the short list of national title contenders heading into 2013.
However, when the initial BCS rankings were announced earlier this week, Johnny Manziel and Co. were staring up at 15 other schools. There clearly has to be a level of disappointment after an entire offseason of hype surrounding the Alabama rematch which the Aggies lost and then a nail-biting defeat to the hands of Auburn.
Sure, there is still plenty to play for—Johnny Manziel’s quest to become the only player outside of Archie Griffin to win two Heisman Trophies and a shot at an at-large invitation to a BCS game come to mind—but the dream of bringing the crystal football to College Station this season is dead.
Looking at A&M’s remaining schedule, it is easy to circle the last two games at LSU and at Missouri as ones to make or break the rest of the campaign. There's also a good chance that the next three home contests against Vanderbilt, UTEP and Mississippi State will be breathers.
The combination of a hangover effect after a stunning loss to Auburn and a narrow escape at Ole Miss the week before likely has Aggie fans relieved to see one of the SEC’s traditional bottom feeders in Vanderbilt is the next opponent. But if the players take a similar attitude, a shocking upset may be in the cards on Saturday.
While it is far from an Alabama or LSU, this isn’t your father’s Commodore team, or even your big brother’s at that. Vanderbilt is coming off its first upset of a Top 25 opponent under head coach James Franklin after overcoming a double-digit deficit against Georgia in the second half.
The Commodores rallied even after quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels left with an injury.
Vanderbilt will be facing a Texas A&M defense that has proven itself to be more than vulnerable all year long. In fact, the Aggies gave up 31 points to Rice, 28 to Sam Houston State, 49 to Alabama, 33 to Arkansas, 38 to Ole Miss and 45 to Auburn. Jordan Matthews, who statistically is one of the best SEC receivers to ever play, has to be licking his lips.
Most of A&M’s games have been shootouts, which means it may need Manziel’s presence on the field. He is far from 100 percent after leaving the Auburn game and even had to wear a sling as a precautionary measure earlier this week, per Sam Cooper of Yahoo! Sports.
With injury concerns involving Texas A&M’s star player, a possible hangover effect following a stunning loss to Auburn, a leaky defense going up against Matthews and a Vanderbilt program riding the momentum of one of its biggest wins in decades, an upset is possible.
The Aggies would be well-served to avoid looking ahead to prime-time showdowns with LSU and Missouri at the back end of the schedule. Otherwise, the Commodores may be celebrating another upset on Saturday.