After two seasons worth of lightning strikes the Aggies now begin life without Johnny Football. It was a fun run with Manziel, waiting with anticipation for the next big play, scoring a ton of points, winning some big games, including two bowls, but he's gone now, along with most of the rest of last year's offense.
However, head coach Kevin Sumlin has done a great job of recruiting since taking over, and the talent is in place to fill those holes. It might take a little while for the Aggies to mesh on offense this year, but long-term the situation in College Sportsbook still looks good.
Texas A&M Odds to Win SEC: 25/1 at Sportsbook
Texas A&M Odds to Win College Football Championship: 66/1 at Sportsbook
Texas A&M Regular Season Win Total: 7 at Sportsbook
Texas A&M opened last season 2-0, then lost a shootout to Alabama. The Aggies then won three in a row, but lost a shootout to Auburn. A&M then won three more in a row, but got punked at LSU and lost at Missouri. The Aggies then ended the season on a good note, coming from behind to beat Duke in the Chick-fil-A Bowl to finish 9-4.
A&M is now 20-6 SU in two seasons under Coach Sumlin.
The Aggies went 8-5 ATS in 2012, but with the emergence of Manziel as a national star, the lines began to change, and A&M only went just 4-9 ATS last year. Now, without Manziel, might that ATS situation reverse itself?
Also, even with all the noise they made with Manziel, the Aggies only went 10-6 SU and 7-9 ATS in SEC play.
This year the Aggies return 14 starters, fourth-most in the conference. Only five starters are back on offense, but fortunately four of those are on what could be one of the best offensive lines in the country. And nine starters are back on defense, including the entire line, so that unit has a good chance to improve upon the 32 points per game it gave up last year.
This year's schedule is testing; the Aggies open with a Thursday night game at South Carolina, later play at SMU, Mississippi State, Alabama and Auburn, and their three true SEC home games come against Ole Miss, Missouri and LSU. They miss Georgia and Florida, but that's only fair.
Texas A&M has holes to fill on offense, but great recruiting classes will help. The schedule is tough, but the defense should be better. In the end the Aggies might not fall as far as some think they will this year.
SEC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of August 5
South Carolina 5/1
Ole Miss 14/1
Texas A&M 25/1
Mississippi State 40/1
Once in a while a player and a team come from out of nowhere to hit the big time, like Auburn with Cam Newton a few years back. Last year Texas A&M did it with red-shirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, who ran and passed and danced and partied his way to the Heisman Trophy, and guided his team to 11 wins and a top-five ranking. Now the question becomes: What can Manziel and the Aggies do for an encore?
Odds to Win SEC: +850 at Sportsbook
Regular Season Win Total: 9.5 at Sportsbook
With a new head coach and a new conference, the vaunted SEC, not much was expected out of the Aggies last year; maybe a middle-of-the-road finish in the nasty SEC West and a minor bowl bid. But A&M had a little more in the tank than most folks knew.
The Aggies opened last season, and life in the SEC, with a tough 20-17 loss to Florida. They then won five in a row, putting up some crazy offensive numbers in the process, before falling in a tough game at LSU 24-19. A&M then topped Auburn and Mississippi State, then pulled off one of the great shockers of recent seasons when they beat No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa 29-24. Three easy victories followed, including a 41-13 trashing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, for an 11-2 finish. Playing under the radar for at least part of the season the Aggies went 8-5 ATS last year, and 4-1 ATS on the road.
This year the Aggies only return 11 starters, six on offense and five on defense. Of course, the main ingredient is QB Manziel, who threw 26 TD passes last year and ran for 1,400 yards and 21 more scores. A&M also retains WR Mike Evans, who caught 1,100 yards worth of balls last year, three along the offensive line, and they add a couple of highly regarded RB transfers. But they lose WR Ryan Swope, four of the defensive front seven, and half the secondary. So there are holes to fill. This year's schedule is fairly accommodating, for the SEC.
After Sportsbook with a couple of warmups the Aggies jump into conference play by hosting Alabama; if they win that game they'll probably go unbeaten at Kyle Field. Following the 'Bama bout A&M should be favored in its next seven games. The Aggies then finish with road games at LSU and at Missouri. Notably, A&M misses the top three teams from the East – Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina. But both Alabama and LSU have off-weeks prior to playing the Aggies, so they'll both be fully prepared.
SEC Championship Odds at Sportsbook as of July 29
South Carolina +500
Texas A&M +850
Mississippi State +10000