Monday, November 11, 2013
Plenty remains at stake for Aggies
By Sam Khan Jr.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Considering everything attached to Texas A&M's 51-41 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday, it felt like an ending.
There was plenty of emotion in the air. It was the final game of an era at Kyle Field -- the grass is already gone and significant work as part of a $450 million renovation has begun. It also was senior day for 13 Texas A&M players, and there's a possibility it was the last home game for some special A&M underclassmen, such as quarterback Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans.
Fireworks went off behind the scoreboard and the whole postgame scene was celebratory. But the Aggies still have work left and, as coach Kevin Sumlin likes to say, there's still a lot in front of them.
Johnny Manziel stirred up Aggies fans in what have might have been his final home game on Saturday night at Kyle Field.
The latest BCS standings, released Sunday night, have the Aggies (8-2, 4-2 SEC) at No. 11. The team is off this week but two tough road games await: a trip to No. 21 LSU (7-3, 3-3) on Nov. 23 followed by the season finale at No. 9 Missouri (9-1, 5-1) on Nov. 30.
How the Aggies fare in those final two games will determine several things.
Texas A&M is still holding out hope that it can sneak into a BCS bowl game. The Aggies need to win their final two games to have a realistic shot at achieving that.
"We've got two of the better teams, not only in our league, but in the country, to play on the road," Sumlin said. "We've got some real challenges ahead of us and we can't get ahead of that in the big picture. We've proven that we can't handle that. We've got to go one at a time. That's coach-speak, but that's truly the case with this team.
"I think the bye week comes at a good time for us from a healing standpoint, from a rest standpoint and for the teams that we have to play to close out the season."
And while the team has its own goals for the final two game, a byproduct of two more victories could be some individual hardware. That includes Manziel, who is in the mix for the Heisman Trophy for the second consecutive season.
The redshirt sophomore quarterback had seemingly trailed Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston in the conversation, but Oregon's loss to Stanford last week opened the door for Manziel to move up in the race. While there are other candidates to consider beyond those names, it appears at this point that Manziel and Winston – whose team is still undefeated and No. 2 in the country – can battle it out over the final weeks of the season.
Manziel said he's taking an approach similar to the one he did last season when it comes to thinking about the possibility of winning it.
"I wasn't even in [the race] for a long time last year and I didn't get much into it last year," Manziel said. "It's the same way this year. My sole focus is that I want nothing more than to win these next two games so that we can get into a good bowl game. We can go 10-2 in another regular season and ... I can't even put into words how bad I want that. There's really nothing other than those two games that we're focusing on."
The Aggies seem to be carrying a slight chip on their shoulder as they attempt to qualify for a BCS bowl for the first time since 1998.
"People who think we don't have a chance to do something that hasn't been done at this school in a long time really are crazy," Manziel said. "Because we still have a chance to do almost everything we wanted to do. We still have a chance to go to a BCS bowl and do some really special things here. That's what we're striving for and those are our goals."