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Navigating Texas A&M’s path back into the top 10...and beyond?

“Courage is taking those first few steps toward your dream even if you can’t see the path ahead.” -My mom’s Pinterest board

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Your college football team’s bye week is a great time to take a step back from the grind of the season and pause for some personal reflection. And by personal reflection, I of course mean doing a week-by-week analysis of what could happen across the sport that could vault your team from afterthought back into the College Football Playoff conversation.

This seemed laughable for Texas A&M just three weeks ago, and many will say it’s still laughable now. But with the Aggies on a three-game win streak that includes an upset of Alabama and blowouts of Missouri and South Carolina, A&M running the table to finish 10-2 is possible. A 10-win season likely puts them back in the top 10 nationally and in the running for a second straight New Year’s Six bowl. A little more luck (OK, a lot more luck) and help from some other teams, and you could amazingly see this team in the College Football Playoff conversation. And considering we’re on a record pace for upsets this season, why shouldn’t it continue?

Let’s break down how it could happen

So as of this week, the current AP Top 25 has the Aggies ranked No. 14, with the following teams in front of them:

  1. Georgia
  2. Cincinnati
  3. Alabama
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Ohio State
  6. Michigan
  7. Oregon
  8. Michigan State
  9. Iowa
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Notre Dame
  12. Kentucky
  13. Wake Forest

So let’s go week by week and see who might lose, and who might the Aggies be able to rise above over the next few weeks. And to be clear, this involves A&M winning every game on the rest of their schedule (Auburn, at Ole Miss, Prairie View A&M, at LSU) as a prerequisite.

Week 9

No. 6 Michigan loses to No. 8 Michigan State

This game is in East Lansing, and the Spartans are playing as well as they have in years. Michigan is currently favored, but this would by no means be a shocking result. In fact, Michigan State has won 8 of the last 13 games with the Wolverines, including going 3-3 against Jim Harbaugh.

No. 9 Iowa loses to Wisconsin

Not only would this not be shocking, the Badgers are actually favored. Iowa has won mostly on the back of an insanely good turnover margin, which caught up with them two weeks ago against Purdue. If they yet again struggle to get takeaways, they could lose yet again.

RESULT: Aggies move up two spots to No. 12 (#branding)

Week 10

No. 10 Kentucky loses to Tennessee

I don’t think anyone has Kentucky going 11-1, and Tennessee may just be the best team left on their schedule. The Volunteers have played some very good teams close, including Ole Miss and Alabama (it was closer than the final score made it appear), and this could be the game where they finally put it all together to get a big win.

RESULT: Aggies move up one spot to No. 11

Week 11

No. 8 Ole Miss loses to No. 11 Texas A&M

If the Rebels can beat Auburn in Week 9, and the Aggies can do the same in Week 10, it sets up a huge showdown in Oxford, with the winner virtually assured to finish no worse than second in the SEC West, securely in the top 10, and on track for a New Year’s Six Bowl or better. A&M being able to say they beat Alabama, and an Ole Miss team whose only other loss was to Alabama, gives them two signature wins that could compete with the resume of any other college football team.

No. 10 Wake Forest loses to NC State

Wake has scraped by the past three weeks, and while NC State is no juggernaut, they might be just good enough to knock Wake Forest from the ranks of the unbeatens, and out of A&M’s way.

RESULT: Aggies move up two spots to No. 9

Week 12

No. 7 Michigan State loses to No. 5 Ohio State

Ohio State seems to have found their stride, so them taking down Michigan State at the Horseshoe wouldn’t surprise anyone, even if it would shatter the dreams of Spartan fans.

No. 2 Cincinnati loses to SMU

Cincy currently has the best chance any Group of Five team has ever had of making the College Football Playoff, but that is seemingly contingent upon them going unbeaten. Standing in their way of that is SMU, who head coach Sonny Dykes also has undefeated and ranked. This would be an upset, especially in Cincinnati, but not necessarily a shocking one.

RESULT: Aggies move up two spots to No. 7

Week 13

Admittedly, this is where the predictions go a bit off the rails. But at this point the Aggies are firmly in the top 10, and a win over a reeling LSU team away from being a lock for a New Year’s Six Bowl simply by taking care of their own business and getting some favorable but not all that shocking outcomes along the way. So if all of that has happened, what would we need to happen to see A&M reach the mountain top?

No. 4 Ohio State loses to Michigan

Jim Harbaugh has yet to beat Ohio State in his tenure at Michigan, but what better time to do it than at The Big House in one of the craziest, most unpredictable years of college football in recent memory?

No. 3 Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State

Once again, the Sooners have owned the Bedlam series for quite a while, but they’ve also looked more vulnerable in 2021 than at any other time under Lincoln Reilly. It would be an upset, but with the game in Stillwater, it’s certainly one that’s in the realm of possibility.

No. 2 Alabama loses to Auburn

Iron Bowl gonna Iron Bowl. Auburn really has no business winning this game, but this game is almost always closer than it should be, especially games at Jordan Hare. Plus, I really want it to happen.

RESULT: Aggies move up three spots to No. 4, win the SEC West

Championship Weekend

No. 1 Georgia loses to No. 4 Texas A&M

In a de facto Playoff play-In game, the Aggies shock the world and take down the heavy favorite in their conference championship game, just like they did in 1998 against Kansas State. Only this time, thanks to the Playoff system, the Bulldogs are not yet dead. Despite the loss, they still manage to sneak into the Playoff, which consists of:

  • No. 1 Oregon
  • No. 2 Notre Dame
  • No. 3 Texas A&M
  • No. 4 Georgia

RESULT: The Aggies win their first ever SEC Championship, and enter their first ever College Football Playoff (the first two-loss team to ever qualify) on an eight-game winning streak that includes wins over then-No. 1 Alabama and then-No. 1 Georgia. Sounds totally do-able.



How much optimism do you have that this scenario could happen?

This poll is closed

  • 15%
    None. This is insane.
    (272 votes)
  • 44%
    It’s unlikley, but still exciting to think about.
    (798 votes)
  • 14%
    Man, this could maybe happen, couldn’t it?
    (256 votes)
  • 25%
    This is now the only feasible outcome I can imagine.
    (462 votes)
1788 votes total Vote Now