SEC Football: Texas A&M vs. SMU Preview

By Matt Virnig
SEC Football, Johnny Manziel
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

After months and months of offseason hype surrounding the rematch between the two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide and the Texas A&M Aggies led by reigning 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the top-ranked Crimson Tide, took some revenge from last season and ran away from College Station with an impressive 49-42 victory over the sixth-ranked Aggies on Saturday.

Manziel finished the game going 28-of-39 for 464 yards passing, five touchdowns, 98 yards rushing and setting an SEC record 562 yards of total offense for the game. But he also threw two costly interceptions that were crucial in his team’s loss. The Aggies also set a record for the most yards ever allowed by the Tide with 628 for the game.

Although the Aggies’ offense looked electric against one of the nation’s top defenses, the defense has caused major concern for Aggies Nation going forward after giving up 568 yards as A.J. McCarron picked apart their man coverage downfield.

The Crimson Tide easily rampaged through their defensive front with T.J. Yeldon, Jalston Fowler and Kenyan Drake, and the unit clearly had no answer for what the Tide was doing offensively all game. It was evident that the defense has backpedaled after mediocre performances against Rice and Sam Houston State in previous weeks.

Aggies head coach Mike Sumlin stated in his postgame comments that he believes his team has the talent to run the table for a national championship crown like Alabama did last season after they lost to A&M. That quest to Pasadena will start this weekend as the Aggies will host the SMU Mustangs on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST at Kyle Field for the 80th time in their program’s history.

The Aggies have owned this series after winning the last 10 appearances, including last season’s 48-3  blowout in Dallas.

The new member of the AAC, the Mustangs travel to College Station after a bye week and a less-than-impressive 31-30 win against the no. 3 team in the FCS, the Montana State Bobcats. The Mustangs defense surrendered 30 points and 378 to the Bobcats, as Montana State controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and ate up clock most of the game.

The defense also gave up 461 yards in a 41-23 loss to Texas Tech and first-year head coach Kliff Kingsbury in Week 1.

SMU and head coach June Jones is led by former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who has NFL potential and is one of the most gifted quarterbacks in the country. The senior signal caller comes into this season after throwing 15 touchdowns and interceptions last season.

Hal Mumme, the founder of the spread offense, has been brought in to tutor the senior in Jones’ run-and-gun style this season at SMU’s offensive coordinator. Gilbert has been solid this season, passing for over 700 yards in the first two games.

He will have to get contributions downfield from Jeremy Johnson, Keenan Holman, Der’rikk Thompson and Ryan Walker to make big crucial plays. The Ponies have the ability to keep the offense in sync against A&M with a solid rushing game led by senior Zach Line.

There’s no doubt that a Jones-coached team can put a lot of points on the board, but the unproven Mustangs defense has the chore of stopping the explosive running game of Ben Malena and Tra Carson, along with Johnny Manziel. The emergence of Malcome Kennedy and Mike Evans this weekend against a great secondary in Alabama proves that there is may not be a better wide receiver duo in the country.

SMU will bring a strong, disciplined effort and they will make it a game early by getting on the board, but the Aggies are too talented as Johnny Football will explode for a 500-plus yard game passing the football, and the Aggies will rush for over 200 as well in a 50-point affair.

Prediction: The Aggies win 51-24 and get ready to stop the run with a date with Arkansas in Fayetteville on the September 28.

Matt Virnig is a SEC Writer for, Follow him on Twitter @MatthewVirnig, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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