A week of uncertainty is followed by what’s sure to be a week of anticipation in College Station, as the Texas A&M Aggies will finally kick off their much-anticipated 2012 season. But their induction into the SEC will be anything but routine, as the Florida Gators make the trek to Aggieland, so do the bright lights and hoopla associated with ESPN’s College GameDay.
The Aggies were originally scheduled to begin the season against Louisiana Tech, but Hurricane Isaac forced the postponement of that game and the debut of new head coach Kevin Sumlin and freshman starting quarterback Johnny Manziel, who is set to become the first freshman quarterback to start an A&M season-opener since 1944.
Fortunately for Texas A&M, these aren’t the Tim Tebow Florida Gators. Former University of Texas coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp is still trying to clean up the mess left behind from Urban Meyer’s abrupt departure. Florida is hardly the behemoth that began the SEC’s streak of six straight national championships in 2006, but the Gators will pose a formidable test and a challenging kickoff to the Aggies’ SEC reign.
Florida put together a workman-like 27-14 win over Bowling Green to start the season. And though they entered that game with their quarterback competition still in doubt, the Gators seem to have settled on sophomore Jeff Driskel. He finished 10-of-16 for 114 yards and a touchdown, though 50 of those yards came on one play. But watch out for tailback Mike Gillislee, who rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns. He just might be the next great Gator back.
No doubt Kyle Field will be rocking, and the eyes of college football will be on College Station thanks to ESPN’s blanket coverage. And, with a mid-afternoon September kickoff, the sweltering heat should favor the home team. The challenge for A&M will be overcoming the normal sloppy play and jitters always lurking during the season opener. Florida has already been through that process. The Aggies will need to do it on the fly, but if they can manage their emotions, they could be looking at a statement victory to start SEC play.
#23 FLORIDA vs. TEXAS A&M
SAT. SEPT. 8 – 2:30PM / ESPN