It just took another SEC team to do it.
Texas A&M, which was a member of the Big 12 Conference this time last season, stunned top-ranked Alabama 29-24 Saturday night in Tuscaloosa. The Aggies, along with Missouri, were one of the early pieces in last year's conference realignment puzzle. Both teams were voted into the SEC, providing the league with new recruiting frontiers and more streams of revenue.
In essence, they were to be seen, not heard.
The Aggies haven't exactly heeded the message.
Seated in the SEC West Division with the likes of Alabama, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Auburn, Texas A&M had the hardest row to hoe. Despite that early handicap, the Aggies jumped out to an early 7-2 record, including a 4-2 mark in league play with wins over Arkansas and Mississippi State. But to earn respect in the SEC, you need a signature win. Texas A&M got it Saturday night.
"You think about it, they [seniors] came to Texas A&M and probably never thought about playing at Alabama for a regular season game, and being a conference football game," Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said following the win.
Close loses to Florida and LSU early in the season are the only thing standing in the way of this team competing for a spot in the SEC championship.
That's right, eight measly points prevent A&M from going to Atlanta.
If Saturday's win taught us anything, it's that Texas A&M is the future of the SEC and Johnny Manziel is the face of that revolution.
With a catchy nickname — Johnny Football — the redshirt freshman quarterback has been the heart and soul of this season's Texas A&M team. His performance against Alabama — 345 total yards of offense and two touchdowns — earned him praise from Sumlin.
"No moment is too big for him," Sumlin said following the win over the reigning SEC champs.
Manziel's performance has earned him a lot of comparison's to past SEC superstars such as Florida's Tim Tebow or Auburn's Cam Newton. There's even Heisman Trophy talk. However, it appears unlikely Manziel will earn the prestigious award this season. Of course, you can never say for sure with the SEC.
While Manziel has all the making of a superstar, it's Sumlin who appears to be the catalyst for A&M's successful jump to the new conference. The 48-year-old coach was hired in the offseason after four successful seasons at the University of Houston.
His up-tempo, high octane offense helped propel the Cougars to the brink of a BCS bid. It's that same philosophy that has injected new life into the SEC. If college football fans wondered just how a team like Alabama would fare against the like of an Oregon, they got their answer Saturday night.
Texas A&M used speed and swagger to ride roughshod over Alabama in the hallowed grounds of Bryant-Denny Stadium. In the shadows of coaching greats Bear Bryant and Gene Stallings, it wasn't lost that both of those men achieved greatness in the SEC following coaching stints in College Station.
It's where Sumlin hopes he can return the Aggies to national prominence once again, and the SEC should take notice.
SEC strikes ratings gold
Texas A&M's upset win over Alabama Saturday night was ratings gold. According to CBS via the Southeastern Conference, the game garnered a 6.6 rating/14 share, which was the second highest rating of the year. Only last week's Alabama at LSU game was higher with a 7.0 rating/13 share.
Trouble at Wazzu?
Washington State officials are looking into allegations made by former wide receiver Marquess Wilson, who claims that he and several other players suffered both physical and verbal abuse at the hands of the coaching staff. Wilson was suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules and, according to the Visalia Times-Delta, the star receiver claims he quit the football team because of "physical, emotional and verbal abuse." First-year coach Mike Leach was involved with an accusation of player abuse that led to his eventual dismissal at Texas Tech.
The more the merrier
Nine more teams joined the ranks of bowl eligible teams this week bringing the total up to 57 teams who have qualified for the 35 postseason bowl games. Of those 57 teams, two of them already have bowl destinations. Navy accepted a bowl bid to play in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco on Dec. 29, while BYU will play in the Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego on Dec. 20. On the flip side, four more teams were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention this past weekend bringing the total up to 30 teams that will spend the postseason at home.
On the web
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