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Thursday, June 7, 2012
Schedule analysis: Texas A&M

By Chris Low

Breaking down the Aggies' schedule in their first season in the SEC:

Nonconference opponents (with 2011 records)

Aug. 30: vs. Louisiana Tech (8-5), in Shreveport, La.
Sept. 15: at SMU (8-5)
Sept. 22: South Carolina State (7-4)
Nov. 17: Sam Houston State (14-1)

SEC home games

Sept. 8: Florida
Sept. 29: Arkansas
Oct. 20: LSU
Nov. 24: Missouri

SEC road games

Oct. 6: at Ole Miss
Oct. 27: at Auburn
Nov. 3: at Mississippi State
Nov. 10: at Alabama

Gut-check time: How SEC-ready are the Aggies? We won't have to wait long to find out. Florida comes to College Station the second week of the season, and it's a critically important game for the Gators with a trip to Tennessee looming the following week. The atmosphere at Kyle Field should be off the charts, and just the whole spectacle of Texas A&M playing its first SEC game against one of the league's traditional powerhouses will make for some serious drama. The Aggies' home schedule is stacked this first season. Arkansas and LSU also come to town, so getting this first one would be huge.

Trap game: Louisiana Tech won the WAC last season, and this should be the Bulldogs' most explosive offense under Sonny Dykes. Plus, Texas A&M has to travel to Shreveport, La., to play the game. It's a Thursday night affair, and Texas A&M had better bring its "A" game or else.

Snoozer: South Carolina State (and not South Carolina) comes to Kyle Field on Sept. 22. It's the week before Arkansas comes to town.

Telltale stretch: It starts with a home game against LSU on Oct. 20, and then it's all on the road for the next three weeks. The Aggies travel to Auburn on Oct. 27, then to Mississippi State on Nov. 3 and finally to Alabama on Nov. 10. That's three SEC road dates in three weeks, and nobody else in the conference has to do that. The fact that you start out that stretch with a home game against LSU, a team likely to open the season No. 1 in the country, makes that three-game road trip to follow seem more like a six-game road trip.

Final analysis: It's an attractive home schedule for the Aggies in their first season in the league, but there's nothing easy about their schedule. For starters, it's never ideal to play schools such as Louisiana Tech and SMU away from home. Those games are upsets waiting to happen. Kevin Sumlin & Co. also drew the short stick in being the only SEC school in 2012 that has to play three straight weeks on the road against league opponents. Talk about a grind, especially when it ends with a trip to Alabama. The Aggies need to be at least 4-2 heading into their home showdown with LSU on Oct. 20. If so, they should have a decent chance to make it to a bowl game. The last thing Texas A&M wants to be going into that three-game road swing is hovering around the .500 mark. It could easily come down to the finale at home against Missouri as to whether the Aggies are going to finish their first regular season in the SEC with a winning record.