A strong start for Texas A&M against Alabama last Saturday ultimately resulted in disappointment, and now the challenge for the Aggies is recovering from that loss, painful though it was. The healing process begins with Southern Methodist, which doesn't figure to give A&M a scare.
SMU won't be shy about airing it out, but it's going to have to find more big plays this week if it wants any shot at beating the Aggies. Garrett Gilbert is averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt this season, and he has just one touchdown pass. He has been impressively efficient, and he hasn't thrown an interception; it's just the explosive plays that are lacking.
Rankings and records: Texas A&M is 43-29-7 against SMU. The Aggies come into the game 2-1 (0-1 SEC), ranked 10th in the AP Poll and ninth in the Coaches' Poll. The unranked Mustangs are 1-1 (0-0 AAC).
Vegas: Texas A&M opened as a 23-point favorite, while the over/under opened at 79.
Weather: The high Saturday is 90, and there is a 40 percent chance of rain.
Three names to know
Johnny Manziel -- Manziel has looked every bit the player who earned the Heisman last season, despite all of the offseason controversy and other stuff he's had to deal with. He threw for more than 460 yards against Alabama's defense last Saturday, and he hasn't averaged fewer than 10 yards per attempt in any game thus far.
Garrett Gilbert -- As mentioned earlier, the efficiency from Gilbert is there -- he has completed 69.1 percent of his throws -- but the Mustangs need a big play or five from him if they want to win this game or simply remain competitive.
Mike Evans -- No FBS wideout has more receiving yardage than Evans, and only two are averaging more yards per catch. Evans is fresh off a brilliant effort against Alabama in which he piled up 279 yards on just seven receptions.
Two things at stake
Texas A&M's national title hopes probably are dashed -- but this is September and the Aggies play in the SEC, so maybe the book on that can't be closed definitively. In any case, they can't worry about the larger picture; they do need to stay sharp with a schedule that shouldn't result in anything resembling a potential loss until late November.
SMU is beginning a rough three-game stretch that includes the Aggies, TCU and Rutgers. The Mustangs' season may well pivot right here -- they can pick up a crucial win for bowl-eligibility purposes during this stretch, or the campaign could spiral out of control.
How to witness
TV: ESPNU (7 p.m. ET)
Online streaming: ESPN3
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