Like many Aggie fans, I walked out of Kyle Field disappointed in our losses to Alabama and Auburn this year. After some griping and moaning at the tailgate afterwards, it began to dawn on me what the real problem was with the team. Coming into the SEC, my third conference as an Aggie fan, I was hoping that we wouldn’t be bottom dwellers in the best league in college football. Last year’s remarkable season renewed hope in the maroon faithful and brought an excitement we hadn’t seen for many years in College Station. Now, we are sitting exactly where we were last year with two home losses to ranked SEC opponents and a 6 -2 record. Why does this year feel different? One thing sums it up and it is not Johnny Manziel, national champions, or even BCS bowl bound. It is expectations. After last season and a ranking in the top 10, even the casual fan had great expectations for this team, and though success breeds success, success also brings out disappointment when results are not achieved.
After watching our losses and close wins, it really comes down to the fact that this team has been one play away from being undefeated. In the same way, we were also one play away from being undefeated last year. The losses to Florida and LSU last season would have been wins, except for one play. In the game with Florida, we called timeout right before a missed 51-yard field goal. When the Gators tried a second time, it was good and provided the winning margin of three points. In the LSU game, a Texas A&M fumble with less than two minutes remaining in the first half was converted into a touchdown by the Tigers. LSU never gave up the lead again, winning by five points.
This year has been no different. In the loss to Alabama, a tipped ball interception and a 73-yard return for a touchdown put the team in a hole that it couldn’t quite dig out of. Last week’s loss to Auburn was no different. There were numerous times that one play made a difference. With the Aggies driving in the fourth quarter, Manziel was injured and had to leave the game. It was third and two from the two. Backup Matt Joeckel was unable to connect with Nehemiah Hicks and had to settle for a field goal. That forced the team to need a touchdown to win, versus three points. The Aggies turned the ball over on downs at the Auburn 21-yard line, definitely in range for kicker Josh Lambo, to end the game.
It shows us that once you have reached the high level of competition that Texas A&M has in the SEC, one play can be the difference in winning and losing. On the same topic, it can also be argued that last year’s team could have easily gone 8-5 if one play had gone the way of La. Tech, Ole Miss and Alabama. This year’s record could also be 4 -3 with a loss to Ole Miss. So even with the defensive woes, a potentially injured Johnny Manziel, and games on the road against ranked opponents in LSU and Missouri, this team still has a chance of matching last season’s record of 10-2 in the regular season and representing the SEC in a high caliber bowl game. The question is: Will we make that one play?