2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - SMU at Texas A&M
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Sept. 4 at Texas A&M 46 … SMU 14
CFN Analysis: 21-of-26 passing for 246 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Tannehill was nearly perfect against the SMU secondary, and the running game was just as effective with the 1-2 punch of Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael rolling for over six yards per carry. The defense struggled to stop the SMU ground game and didn't hit well enough, and the secondary had a few holes in the first half, but everything clamped down in the second half and the Aggies played like they're supposed to. SMU is a good team and A&M had no problems putting it away. Now comes the layup against Idaho before the showdowns against Oklahoma State and Arkansas, but the offense already looks ready to roll.
SMU has a quarterback issue. Kyle Padron threw two picks, J.J. McDermott stepped in and threw for 254 yards and a touchdown, and while he didn't put any points on the board in the second half, he showed decent poise and held up well under the pressure. Zach Line ran for 128 yards and rumbled through the A&M defense in the first half, but the game got out of reach and he didn't get a chance to control the game in the second half. With UTEP, Northwestern State, and Memphis up next, the Mustangs have time to get the quarterback situation figured out and should be 3-1 before going to TCU and playing a huge conference game against UCF.
(AP) COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael ran for two touchdowns apiece and Ryan Tannehill threw for two more scores to help No. 8 Texas A&M beat SMU 46-14 on Sunday night.
The Aggies were anxious to get on the field and bring the focus back to football instead of the school's decision to leave the Big 12. They got things going early, intercepting quarterback Kyle Padron's passes on SMU's first two possessions to jump out to a 14-0 lead.
SMU coach June Jones replaced Padron with backup J.J. McDermott after the early miscues and he helped the Mustangs cut it to 20-14 in the second quarter.
But the Mustangs couldn't do much offensively after that and the Aggies scored 26 straight points the rest of the way to secure the win.
Gray finished with 132 yards rushing. Michael, in his first game since breaking his leg last October, added 85. Tannehill was 21 of 26 for 246 yards. Ryan Swope led Texas A&M's receivers with eight receptions for 109 yards and a score and Jeff Fuller added six catches for 52 yards.
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SMU (0-0) at Texas A&M (0-0) Sept. 4, 7:30, Fox Sports Net
Here's The Deal … After making plenty of headlines recently for its flirtation with the SEC, Texas A&M is hoping to turn even more heads with its on-field product. The Aggies will begin 2011 with its most talented squad in over a decade. With starters and all-star contenders littered throughout the depth chart, they're preseason ranked for a change, and poised to contend for Big 12 supremacy. Mike Sherman's team is relevant on a national level, and for more reasons than just its impact on the realignment landscape. Three is all the time June Jones has needed to revive the SMU program, guiding the school to back-to-back bowl games. Still, there was a feeling around the Hilltop that the Mustangs somewhat regressed by going 7-7 and losing the Armed Forces Bowl to Army a year ago. With a quality recruiting class set to join forces with a swath of returning starters, the program believes it can compete for—and win—a Conference USA crown in Jones' fourth try.
Why SMU Might Win: The Mustangs will present an offensive challenge to an Aggie D smarting from the loss of two of last year's best players, linebackers Von Miller and Michael Hodges. More complex than a traditional run-and-shoot attack, SMU now has the balance to keep the opposition guessing. Of course, it can move the ball through the air, with seasoned Kyle Padron hooking up with receivers Cole Beasley and Darius Johnson, among others. However, the Mustangs are also capable of grinding out yards behind 2010 league-leading rusher Zach Line. It's the diversity of this attack that can be so doggone frustrating for defensive coordinators.
Why Texas A&M Might Win: While SMU can be feisty on defense, it can also be rather flexible. And that's going to become a major issue in the opener. The Aggies are stacked offensively, brimming with next-level players at almost every position. A&M features sparkplug QB Ryan Tannehill, 1,000-yard rusher Cyrus Gray, 1,000-yard receiver Jeff Fuller and a talented line about to grow up on the fly. Oh, and Gray's backup, Christine Michael, was actually last season's starter before being felled with a broken leg. This unit has every bit as much horsepower as the two more heralded Big 12 offenses from the state of Oklahoma. If the Mustangs fail to stiffen on third downs and in the red zone, the outcome of this one could be decided by halftime.
What To Watch Out For: If there's worry in College Station, it centers on the void left by the graduation of Miller, a force from his hybrid joker position. While duplicating his production is doubtful, the Aggies are hopeful they can mine another versatile athlete capable of defending the run and rushing the passer with equal tenacity. There are going to be options for the staff. Sophomore Damontre Moore is the frontrunner, with a tremendous future, but he's being pressed by junior Caleb Russell. If August is any indication, the competition is liable to spill over to Sunday night.
What Will Happen: Distractions? Not on this evening. Texas A&M is fired up to start matching the preseason hype, and the Kyle Field faithful will make sure it remains that way for all four quarters. Although SMU is a nice team, with a very high ceiling in Conference USA, it'll struggle to suppress the star-studded Aggies offense. Both of these former Southwest Conference rivals will display balance, but Tannehill, Gray and Fuller will be more effective at turning long drives into six points.
CFN Prediction: Texas A&M 38 … SMU 20
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Texas A&M -16 O/U: 55.5
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