Texas A&M Aggies: Missouri Tigers

1. The SEC released Monday its schedule rotation for nondivisional conference opponents, laying out in stark terms the cost of playing only eight conference games a year. For instance, Texas A&M players who enroll this fall will play UCLA twice (2016-17) and never play Georgia or Vanderbilt (the fifth-year guys will get Kentucky in 2018). Or this: Missouri plays at Kyle Field this fall, and the Tigers won’t return to College Station before 2026, when this year’s first-graders will enroll in college. That’s conference play?

2. I can’t recommend highly enough the breakdown of Big Ten balance sheets that my colleague Matt Fortuna began Monday in a four-part series. The numbers are staggering, yes, but the explanation of expenditures by Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis provides depth and detail to the amount of resources afforded to scholarship student-athletes. I’m for giving them full cost of attendance, but as Fortuna highlighted, the increase in services provided by schools over the last decade is staggering.

3. At the Tulane commencement Saturday, Wynton Marsalis used words and his horn to give graduates a compelling message. But the best moment came when university president Scott Cowen singled out former Green Wave defensive back Devon Walker, paralyzed in a game two years ago. When Cowen asked spectators and Walker’s fellow graduates “to show our love and our respect for this incredible young man,” they responded with a 40-second standing ovation.

Film review: Texas A&M 59, Missouri 29 

November, 26, 2012
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Texas A&M closed out its regular season with a dominant 59-29 win over Missouri on Saturday at Kyle Field. Once again, the Aggies shined on both ends of the ball en route to taking a commanding 42-0 lead. They've been a quick start team all year and Saturday was no different. They took a 21-0 lead to 42-0 in the second quarter with several big plays. Here's a look at three of their second quarter plays that were indicative of not only their success on Saturday, but why they've been successful all season:

[+] EnlargeDe'Vante Harris
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesFreshman cornerback De'Vante Harris has 25 tackles and an interception for the Aggies this season.
Situation: Missouri ball, third-and-3 at its own 32. (10:58 left, second quarter
Score: Texas A&M 28, Missouri 0
Result: Pass completion from Corbin Berkstresser to Marcus Lucas, fumble, recovered by Toney Hurd.
Johnny ManzielAP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherJohnny Manziel broke Cam Newton's 2010 record for total yards on Saturday and might join the former Auburn quarterback as a Heisman Trophy winner.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M senior linebacker Sean Porter remembers what the perception of the Aggies seemed to be in July in Birmingham, Ala.

It was the Aggies' formal introduction into the Southeastern Conference, and everyone wondered what to make of Texas A&M, one of the two new programs. Many dismissed the Aggies' chances of being a serious factor in the conference. At least, that's what Porter inferred from the tone of some of the questions he was asked.

"I remember going to SEC media day," Porter said. "All those guys in there were looking at us like we were going to be some kind of doormat."

A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said plainly on Saturday, "We didn't care what everyone else's expectations were."

With that disregard and an optimism ushered in by new everything -- coaching staff, league, schemes, some players and even the uniforms -- the Aggies set out to rewrite the narrative some had already written. With their latest win, a 59-29 crushing of Missouri on Saturday at Kyle Field that put a bow on their regular season, they have done just that.

The win locked the No. 9 Aggies into a tie for second place in the SEC West with LSU. Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will finish the regular season in the top 10 and has won 10 games for the first time since 1998. The Aggies did it in part because of the confidence they carried, instilled by Sumlin and the coaching staff from the start.

"We thought we were going to win all of our games," Porter said. "We truthfully thought that."

A big part also was played by their wunderkind quarterback, redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. The Kerrville (Texas) Tivy product exceeded just about everyone's expectations, compiling an SEC single-season-record 4,600 total yards in 12 games, eclipsing the mark set by Auburn's Cam Newton in 14 games in 2010. He was his usual dazzling self Saturday, throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for two more, eating up 439 total yards.

(Read full post)


COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M put the finishing touches on a double-digit win season and Johnny Manziel made his final case for the Heisman Trophy as the Aggies coasted by Missouri 59-29 Saturday at Kyle Field.

The win makes Texas A&M 10-2 on the season (6-2 SEC), marking the first time since 1998 that the Aggies have finished a season with at least 10 wins. Let's take a look at the notable happenings from the night:

It was over when: The clock hit triple zeroes at halftime. The Aggies started fast and didn't look back, jumping out to a 42-0 lead at the 3:33 mark in the second quarter. Missouri scored once before the half and added 22 points in the second half, but it was all for naught as A&M's lead was already insurmountable.

Game ball goes to: Manziel. He was his usual productive self on Saturday, completing 32-of-44 passes for 372 yards and three touchdowns with one interception while running 12 times for 67 yards and two touchdowns. He became the SEC's single-season total yardage record-holder, eclipsing Cam Newton's mark of 4,327 (Manziel finished with 4,600 for the season, breaking Newton's mark in two fewer games).

Key stat: 12-of-16. The Aggies' third-down conversion rate. All season, Texas A&M has called third down the "money down", and the Aggies have earned their money in that area on both sides of the ball. They converted their first 12 attempts on offense Saturday, which was a big reason why they took their commanding lead. They converted 75 percent of their third downs and were pretty good defending them on defense too (5-of-14, 35.7 percent).

Unsung hero of the game: Spencer Nealy. All season long, the senior defensive tackle has done dirty work for the Aggies, taking on double teams after switching positions from defensive end prior to the season. He shined in that role, and Saturday was the best example of that, when he was disruptive to Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser and the Tigers' offensive backfield. Nealy finished with seven tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.

Best call: A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin applied a nice touch late in the game, allowing Manziel to come in for a play so that he could leave the field and get an ovation from the 87,222 in attendance. Manziel gave the "Gig 'em" thumbs up to the crowd as he exited. It was a nice moment and a fitting end to what has been a memorable season for the redshirt freshman quarterback and the Aggies.

What it means: The Aggies' first SEC regular season is in the books and it's safe to say that they've arrived. With 10 wins, they exceeded expectations and they have a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate (front runner even?) in Manziel. Texas A&M will go to a quality bowl game, likely either the Capital One Bowl, Cotton Bowl or possibly a BCS bowl, depending on how things shake out in the season's final weekend.

For Missouri, it means the Tigers will not go bowling, as they finish 5-7 (2-6 in the SEC). There were high expectations coming into the season and it's a disappointing end for the Tigers, who were without starting quarterback James Franklin on Saturday because of a concussion suffered last week.

Staff prediction: Texas A&M vs. Mizzou

November, 23, 2012
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Damontre MooreBrendan Maloney/US PresswireDamontre Moore and the Aggies defensive line will be counted on to disrupt Missouri's passing game.
Texas A&M 48, Missouri 20

How Missouri performs likely will hinge on the health of quarterback James Franklin, who is a game-time decision, according to coach Gary Pinkel. Franklin suffered a concussion in the Tigers' 31-27 loss to Syracuse, but even if he's healthy enough to play, look for the Aggies to come away with this one. They're playing at a high level, they're at home and they have redemption on their minds after being defeated by Missouri at Kyle Field each of the last two seasons.

The Tigers have a talented, explosive collection of receiving talents and will test the Aggies' secondary, but they'll also have to find an answer for redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, who wasn't around for those last two defeats and will have a chance to put the final touches on his resume for Heisman Trophy voters.

If Franklin doesn't start for Missouri, it will be redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser getting his fourth start of the year.

Player to watch

Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
Regardless of which quarterback plays for the Tigers, the key to keeping the talented Missouri receiving group from having a big day will be quarterback pressure from the Aggies' defensive front. Few have played at the level Moore has all season long. The junior is tied for the nation's lead in sacks (12.5) and tackles for loss (20). He'll be looking to add to those numbers on Saturday and close out what has been a terrific regular season.

Five storylines: Texas A&M vs. Missouri 

November, 21, 2012
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Texas A&M approaches its regular season finale, hosting fellow Southeastern Conference newbie Missouri. These teams are familiar with each other since both were in the Big 12 and they've met each of the last two seasons. Here are storylines to keep an eye on for the Aggies:

1. A 10-win season
Regardless of the result, the Aggies' season will be considered an impressive one because of what they have already accomplished. But hitting the 10-win mark will be significant for these Aggies because it would be the first time since 1998 that a Texas A&M football team has accomplished that feat. And you would have been hard-pressed to find someone outside Aggieland that would have predicted a 10-win season for the team in its first season in the SEC.

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Biggest impact in SEC: A&M or Mizzou?

September, 5, 2012
9/05/12
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ESPN SEC bloggers Chris Low and Edward Aschoff debate which new Southeastern Conference program will make the biggest on-field impact in its first year: Texas A&M or Missouri. You can read their analysis here.

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