The Texas A&M football team defeated Vanderbilt by the score of 56-24 on Saturday to move to 6-2 on the season, with a 3-2 record in the Southeastern Conference. The Aggies became bowl-eligible with the win, and their next four games will determine which bowl they go to.
The Aggie defense currently resembles a sieve more than your typical SEC defensive stalwarts. That should change over the next few years as player maturation and recruiting will transform the talent level on the roster.
As it stands right now, the inability of the defense to consistently get stops means that every team on the schedule is a threat to beat A&M. The offense has to outscore teams in order for the Aggies to get a win.
The Aggies have two consecutive home games and then two road games to end the season. Whether or not their defense shows up in those games will go a long way toward determining how the 2013 season is viewed as by Texas A&M fans.
This is a look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the remaining games on the Aggies' schedule.
The UTEP Miners have struggled during their first season under head coach Sean Kugler. They will come into Kyle Field with a 1-6 record after a 45-7 road loss to Rice.
The Miners offense is led by a familiar face to Aggie fans. Jameill Showers was the backup quarterback to Johnny Manziel in 2012. He completed his degree in three years and transferred to UTEP to attend graduate school and start at quarterback.
Showers has been solid in his first year as a starter. He is averaging 209 yards passing per game and has thrown 11 touchdowns with only four interceptions. Showers may miss the A&M game after separating his shoulder against Rice.
The Miners' defense has been struggling, allowing almost 460 yards and 38 points per game. This is not a game that the Aggies should be threatened in.
Even if Showers lights up the Aggie defense, the Texas A&M offensive line and running game will be way too much for the Miners to overcome.
The best-case scenario for the Aggies is that the defense plays well early and allows the coaches to get a look at the younger players in the second half during a blowout. The worst-case scenario is that Showers makes the Aggie defense look bad, and the game is a shootout that the Aggies win in the fourth quarter.
Best-case Score: A&M 63 UTEP 13
Worst-case Score: A&M 53 UTEP 43
The Mississippi State Bulldogs have struggled with consistency in 2013. With the ascension of Ole Miss under Hugh Freeze in Oxford, Bulldog head coach Dan Mullen may be fighting to keep his job when MSU comes to Aggieland.
The Bulldogs have a solid offense led by dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott. He is averaging over 160 yards passing per game and 70 yards rushing per game. Prescott leads an offense that averages 450 yards and 30 points per game.
The Mississippi State defense has struggled against SEC teams, allowing an average of 35 points in its three conference games.
The worst-case scenario for the Aggies in this game is that Prescott toys with the defense with his ability to throw on the run. The Aggies cannot get a stop against MSU, and Manziel and the offense stay on the sidelines.
The best-scare scenario is that the defense gets some stops early and the Aggies get out to a big early lead. The Bulldogs defense gets discouraged, and the game turns into a blowout.
Best-case Score: A&M 51 MSU 27
Worst-case Score: MSU 38 A&M 34
The Aggies' game against LSU in Baton Rouge represents a very bad matchup for A&M. The Tigers offense feature Jeremy Hill at running back and wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry.
The Aggie defense simply cannot match up with that kind of firepower. The LSU defense has struggled at times in 2013, but it will be very tough at home.
This is the toughest game remaining on the Aggies' schedule. In order for the Aggies to win, they will need Tiger quarterback Zach Mettenberger to turn the ball over and for the LSU secondary to continue to struggle against the pass.
Best-case Score: A&M 34 LSU 33
Worst-case Score: LSU 41 A&M 23
The Missouri Tigers have turned their program around in 2013. After struggling with injuries and going 5-7 in 2012, the Tigers are 6-1 and lead the SEC East with a 3-1 conference record during their second season in the league.
Mauk leads an explosive Missouri offense that averages 513 yards and 44 points per game. The Aggies have to travel to Columbia to play Missouri. The Tigers also have an excellent pass rush led by senior defensive end Michael Sam.
Sam leads Missouri with 16 tackles for loss and 10 sacks on the season. The Tigers have registered 23 sacks on the season.
The combination of the Missouri offense and a road game may end up being a bad one for the Aggies. This is a game that could get out of hand if the Aggies defense does not show up in a big way.
Best-case Score: A&M 51 Missouri 41
Worst-case Score: Missouri 51 A&M 38