We’re just one day away from the beginning of one of the most anticipated Texas A&M football seasons in recent memory, with the Aggies coming off a one-loss season in 2020 and sitting at No. 6 in both preseason polls. Looking at the schedule another one-loss season seems to be on the table as well, and would be considered an unmitigated success.
But you know what’s cooler than one loss? No losses.
I’m well aware of Texas A&M’s football history, most of which points to this being a very unlikely outcome. They’ve had only two seasons with less than three losses this century, and don’t have a conference championship since 1998. But for this coaching staff, and this group of players, what others have done in the past matters very little. It’s all about what they are capable of achieving, and I believe that ceiling is as high as anyone’s in the country.
Big players win big games, and A&M has more big-time players all assembled on one team than they’ve seemingly ever had. They have four potential first round picks in OT Kenyon Green, TE Jalen Wydermyer, RB Isaiah Spiller and DL DeMarvin Leal, and several other 2022 NFL Draft prospects (especially on the defensive side). 247 Sports ranks A&M as having the seventh-most talented roster in the country, which is the highest the Aggies have placed in this ranking since it started being tracked in 2015.
“Hey, Texas A&M recruited well under Kevin Sumlin, too,” you may think. Not like this they haven’t. If you ranked every recruiting class Texas A&M has ever had (since those things started getting tracked a little more than 20 years ago), the top three classes are...wait for it...Jimbo Fisher’s three recruiting classes in 2019, 2020 and 2021. Fisher has taken the Aggies from having a blue chip ratio below the 50% threshold to currently being at 61% (and only looking to go higher with the 2022 class).
Obviously recruiting well isn’t a guarantee of top-level success, but for the first time, the Aggies seem to at least be within striking distance of the top teams from a talent perspective. The rest simply comes down to scheme and coaching. Speaking of which...
Much will be made about this being the fourth year of Jimbo Fisher’s tenure in Aggieland, but perhaps just as important is that he also returns the same offensive and defensive coordinators for the fourth straight season in Darrell Dickey and Mike Elko. That means seniors have been practicing the same techniques, using the same terminology and learning the same playbook for their entire Texas A&M careers. That lack of turnover can be invaluable, especially given the significant coaching changes at A&M’s biggest roadblock on the schedule.
It’s hard to have TOO much of a favorable schedule when you reside in the SEC West, but the Aggies get about as close to it as you can this year. Their non-conference Power 5 foe is Colorado, who while respectable, shouldn’t pose a legitimate threat, and the Aggies get Alabama and Auburn at Kyle Field this year. The biggest road tests don’t come until the final two weeks of the season, when they have back-to-back road games against Ole Miss and LSU. Both should be strong tests, but there’s still every reason to believe A&M can be the superior team.
The obvious roadblock here is Alabama, a team the Aggies haven’t beaten since 2012, and really haven’t even come close to beating under Jimbo Fisher. Alabama is still unquestionably more talented, but they also lost a ton of production from that 2020 team, particularly on the offensive side of the football. The Tide are still the superior team, but the gap between the two teams has shrunk. It will take A&M’s best effort, and likely even a little luck, but this is the first team since 2012 that feels like it has the horses to hang with Alabama.
The Slow Build
Part of the fun of Texas A&M’s 2012 success was how unexpected it was. The Aggies came into the SEC with a new head coach, a new QB, and almost zero expectations. They’d go on to upset No. 1 Alabama, see Johnny Manziel win a Heisman and blow out Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to cap off an insanely enjoyable 11-2 season. But the program’s current state stands in stark contrast to that. Rather than lightning in a bottle, the build up to this season has felt like a slow burn. Year-over-year improvements, in everything from culture, to recruiting, to on-field results, have this team feeling less like a plucky David winning against all odds, and more like a second Goliath engaging in an equal battle.
I know running the table is unlikely. Heck, in any given season, that’s the case for every program in America. Even elite programs are much more likely to drop a game or two over the course of the season. But what is fandom for if not buying in when you think your team has a legit chance at greatness? Every year, we all make preseason predictions, most of which end up looking very foolish by the end of the year. I’d rather look foolish believing in this team’s potential than look foolish for doubting them. The losses won’t hurt less because I predicted them. The wins will feel just as great even if I expected them.
Do you think Texas A&M can go undefeated?
This poll is closed
Maybe if everything goes right
Not a chance