Road to Saturday: Texas A&M adjusting just fine in the SEC

This is the type of week that will make Texas A&M's move to the SEC worthwhile.

Texas A&M might not beat No. 1 Alabama. In fact, it probably won't. Alabama is favored by almost two touchdowns. The Crimson Tide will be very hard to beat at Tuscaloosa. Yet, in the big picture, that's not the most important thing.

Texas A&M and Alabama will play in the coveted 3:30 p.m. ET slot on CBS on Saturday. That might be the best game in college football this week. Even if it's not, there's a good chance it will be the most watched.

These kinds of games will set Texas A&M on a new path.

The Aggies haven't won a national championship since 1939. Continuing to do the same things wasn't going to get them over that hump.

Texas A&M had to compete with Texas and Oklahoma, and even Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, for top recruits. The Aggies were pretty much selling the same thing as those other Big 12 schools. Now they can sell something unique: The opportunity to play in the greatest conference in college football, to play at places like Alabama, and LSU, and Florida down the road. Texas and Oklahoma can sell being the big names and traditional powers in those states. Texas A&M can sell playing in the SEC. That will carry a lot of weight with five-star recruits in that talent-rich area. If the Aggies can effectively take advantage of that, they can join Alabama as a regular national title contender very soon.

And Texas A&M can also sell that it is pretty good already in the SEC, with a dynamic coach that it got from Houston this past offseason.

Texas A&M is 7-2, ranked 15th in the nation, with an exciting fast-paced offense led by redshirt freshman quarterback in Johnny Manziel. Going against Alabama's defense, which has allowed more than 14 points in a game just once this season, will be a huge test. But no matter what happens Saturday, this first SEC season has to be considered a success for Texas A&M.

"It's been a lot of fun because you can actually walk around and people actually like you," Texas A&M senior defensive lineman Spencer Nealy said. "I dropped my dry cleaning off because I got a stain on my brand new pair of jeans and the guy comes out and was like, 'Hey let's get after them. We're proud of y'all.' If we were having a bad season, he probably would have kicked me out and sent me somewhere else. That's been the nice thing about it. It has been a blast."

Texas A&M is also getting respect around the conference. Alabama coach Nick Saban talked about how the Aggies' hurry up offense has SEC teams on their heels, and that the Crimson Tide can't replicate the tempo of Texas A&M's offense in practice.

"They're an upcoming team starting in the SEC that's done a tremendous job," Alabama offensive lineman Chance Warmack said. "People had probably already counted them out in the beginning, but they've proved everybody wrong."

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