Beyond the Boxscore
Best team in Texas hands down: Texas A&M serves notice to UT & Oklahoma in aSunday night football party
You can admire the way Case Keenum throws the football as the University of Houston goes for an undefeated season against a schedule that's anything but BCS worthy. You can get a kick out of all the tricks that the University of Texas' new co-offensive coordinators pull out this season.
And who wouldn't want a ticket to see what wild peaks and valleys Robert Griffin III (RG3 as he's been dubbed by those "crazy" Bears fans) and Art Briles will bring Baylor to this season? After all, this duo already exposed TCU as overrated — again.
But make no mistake. There is only one dominant college football team in the state of Texas in 2011 and it calls College Station home.
Opening up fashionably late — and turning that opener into a Sunday night football party the likes of which Al Michaels, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Costas and the rest of the NFL bright lights that usually call this night home have seldom seen — Texas A&M put on an absolute show in a 46-14 dismantling of SMU.
If anything, the Aggies' No. 8 ranking (their highest preseason ranking in more than a decade) looks a little low. It's hard to imagine there being seven college football teams in the country better than the deep, balanced juggernaut built by former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman. There was no smoke and mirrors at Kyle Field. These Aggies are good — national championship-caliber good.
That doesn't necessarily mean that A&M will be hoisting the crystal trophy in New Orleans on Jan. 9 (the Aggies' future SEC partners LSU and Alabama and the Pac-12's Stanford will have plenty to say on this matter). But No. 1 Oklahoma of the Big 12 (for now) certainly has something to think about. Did the Sooners really look that much better in blitzing Tulsa 47-14 than A&M did in destroying SMU?
If anything, the Aggies' No. 8 ranking looks a little low. It's hard to imagine there being seven college football teams in the country better than the deep, balanced juggernaut built by former Green Bay Packers coach Mike Sherman.
Even with Von Miller on the sidelines as a returning pro, the Aggies racked up eight sacks (against the most experienced offensive line in college football) and two early interceptions that had June Jones abandoning his starting quarterback. A&M quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 21-of-26 for 246 yards and two touchdowns, posting a nifty 185.6 quarterback rating. Phil Simms had a game like that once. In a Super Bowl.
"I thought Ryan played a great ballgame," Sherman said in his postgame news conference, broadcast on A&M's radio network. "He managed the game well and made some unbelievable checks that put us in a great position on some of our runs. He played a stellar game today and he’s just scratched the surface."
When Tannehill wasn't hitting receivers in stride, the tailback tandem of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael helped the Aggies churn out 212 rushing yards. Texas A&M punted twice the entire game and barely even had to go to third down in the first half (finishing with only six third down plays for the entire game — a game in which it produced 458 yards of total offense).
The largest crowd for an opener in Kyle Field history (86,961) certainly didn't have any. The 12th Man more than believes this year.
"There's a lot of excitement over the program," said Pat Ryan of The Ticket Experience, a Houston-based ticket broker that's followed the A&M market for years. "It's the first time A&M's been ranked this high going into a season in a while, then you add the SEC move, and people want to be a part of it."
Special seasons create bandwagons — and A&M is steamrolling toward one.
Sherman estimated that 10,000 people flanked his team's traditional Spirit Walk into Kyle Field. "All the way down to the stadium, they were packed 8 to 10 deep," the coach said. "There had to be 10,000 people out there. It was unbelievable."
It's the kind of thing that's liable to have local college football fans without a set rooting allegiance in the region trekking to College Station to see the state's new hot program even before it enters the SEC next fall. No matter what you think of Bryan, this team is worth the trip. Texas A&M was good last year. Now, the Aggies are good and they have an aura.
The best team in Texas? It's only Sept. 5 and that question's already been answered, loud and clear.