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Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Previewing Week 1: Texas A&M

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

You're counting down the days, I'm sure. We're so close, and yet so far from the season's opening weekend. I can't wait for it, and I'm sure every player in the Big 12 can't either. So, despite being a bit far off, we'll take a look at each team's opener, inspired by our friends over at the Big Ten blog.

We started this series at the top of the alphabet, and it's time for the Aggies.

Texas A&M Aggies

Week 1 Opponent: SMU

Coach: June Jones, fourth year (16-23, 12-12 Conference USA)

2010 record: 7-7 (6-2, Conference USA)

Returning starters: 18 (10 offense, 8 defense, no specialists)

About the Mustangs: The next step for June Jones miracle work at SMU will begin at Kyle Field. After a 1-11 season in 2008, the Mustangs have tied for first place in the C-USA West in each of the past two seasons, and played in bowl games.

The Mustangs return starting quarterback Kyle Padron, whose maturation took a big step in 2010 with 3,828 yards, 31 touchdowns and 14 interceptions on 302-of-508 passing.

Leading receiver Aldrick Robinson is gone, but Pardon has his next four leading receivers returning, including Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson, who combined for 165 receptions and 12 touchdowns with 1,905 receiving yards.

They're balanced out by rumbling running back Zach Line, a 230-pound back that ran for 1,494 yards and 12 touchdowns last season.

SMU's powerful offense will need to put big points up to keep up with the Aggies in the opener, but three of the team's top four tacklers return from a defense that gave up 25.6 points (59th nationally) and just more than 342 yards a game to rank 40th nationally in total defense.

Random factoid: In SMU's first game back in an on-campus stadium, the admittedly gorgeous, albeit small Gerald J. Ford Stadium just outside downtown Dallas, the Ponies knocked off a Big 12 foe. SMU beat Kansas 31-17 before a sellout crowd of 32,367 fans.

Totally unscientific percentage chance Texas A&M wins: 77 percent. Make no mistake, just like Texas Tech a year ago, SMU is definitely good enough to beat Texas A&M. If the Aggies play decent and don't turn the ball over, they should win by double digits. If not? Well, this could be a heart-stopper. Texas A&M started slow last season, too, needing to erase a 20-6 fourth-quarter deficit against Florida International for a 27-20 win in the third game of the season.

More Week 1 previews: