Well, it did not take long to experience the first plot twist of the inaugural SEC season. Instead of opening within the confines of Independence Stadium, Texas A&M will open its season in the open, much anticipating arms of Kyle Field. Season openers have a special meaning. No matter what the realistic expectations may be, once opening day comes logic tends to take a convenient leap out the window. Suddenly, each game seems much more winnable than before. Any flaw an opponent may have becomes magnetized and a reasonable-but-maybe-not-so-reasonable excuse for how your team can pull off a victory. A new season means a fresh start so why not believe that this is your team’s year? The kookiness of this mindset lasts until the first loss; where the fog of potential championship and a sober analysis can finally be made (by sober analysis, I mean flipping to the other side of the spectrum where your team stinks and the coach needs to be fired).
That’s partly why facing a cupcake team is helpful. Certainly Louisiana Tech was no cupcake but the game could have served the same purpose as the SMU opener last year. The Mustangs had experience and were expected to win the Conference USA. The game could have been one of those sleeper upsets, but A&M extinguished any hope of that in the first half. The Aggies were able to work out a few kinks while building confidence for their eventual showdown with Oklahoma State. This year, the kinks have to be worked out against the Florida Gators.
While this cranks the anticipation up to 11, the room for error is now slim to none. But what better way for A&M to introduce itself to the SEC than beating one of the nation’s premiere programs? In fact, the only way to weigh the magnitude of such a matchup is through the classic, always reliable Pros and Cons list! Yay! (Freeze Frame)
Sorry about that. Let’s move on shall we?
No More Looking Ahead
LA Tech was no team to look past, but when a litmus test game like Florida looms the following week, it’s pretty tempting to put one’s focus elsewhere. Well be tempted no more. The game that all Aggies had circled has finally arrived.
A Little Extra Practice Never Hurt
While the Gators will have a game under their belt when they come to Kyle Field, they’ve had to spend this week focusing on Bowling Green. Getting the news of LA Tech’s postponement on Tuesday, the Ags will have nearly two weeks of preparation when Florida comes to town. For so many underclassmen expecting to play, including Johnny Manziel, A&M needs every extra second they can get.
The 12th Man was going to be loud already. But look at the new variables of the equation.
Florida Gators + 1st SEC Game in School History + Big Time Game that’s Winnable + Pent Up Aggression that the Season was Delayed a Week
Don’t underestimate that last variable. Fans yearn for Week 1 the moment the previous season ends. Postponing the Aggie opener was like postponing Christmas from little kid. Kyle Field will be loud and could push breaking the attendance record it set against Nebraska in 2010.
Johnny Manziel’s First Game is Against a Defense with 10 Returning Starters
Has there ever been a better example of Baptism by Fire? Along with the above statement, Florida ranked in the top ten in most defensive categories and surely making Johnny Football very uncomfortable will be their highest priority. Plus, Will Muschamp will be dialed in to try to shut down the Aggies highflying offense. His last two experiences with A&M were the 42-39 shootout in 2009 and the Cyrus Gray show the following year.
Youth fills the Aggie roster--youth that will be experiencing a meaningful game day snap for the very first time. While Florida has questions of its own, their speed and athleticism cannot be denied. Perhaps the biggest factor is how quickly A&M can adjust to such quickness along with the natural pressure that comes in a college football atmosphere.
Yes, this will be a home game at Kyle Field. But this will be one the most monumental games in school history. With that pressure, crowd noise won’t be needed. It all comes back to youth and inexperience.
The Aggies have the attributes to take down a powerhouse like Florida and the same questions of inexperience hold true for the blue and orange. Either way, September 8th will be a day Texas A&M will never forget.