3 games that will define Mike Elko’s first season as Texas A&M football head coach

Which three games are most consequential for Texas A&M football in year one of Mike Elko?

Oct 28, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame leprechaun mascot Kylee Kazenski leads the Notre
Oct 28, 2023; South Bend, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame leprechaun mascot Kylee Kazenski leads the Notre / Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
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Opener vs Notre Dame will determine narrative surrounding 2024 for Texas A&M football

I’ve already written plenty about how impactful this game will be for the way the Aggies are perceived going forward. Way too early top 25 rankings are beginning to see the Ags creep in around the 24 or 25 spot (with room to improve, if Texas A&M football can impress and continue to build hype during the spring), while the Irish are consistently being ranked within the top 10. This would be a win, in other words, that would bring cache.

The narratives surrounding this one will bring a lot of eyes, as well. There will be no shortage of viewers for the first game of the Mike Elko era; this is one of the premier games of opening weekend, and it is chock-full of storylines.

Not only did Elko previously coach in South Bend prior to his first stint in College Station, but when he faced off against them last year as the head coach of the Duke Blue Devils, it took a last-minute, heroic drive by Sam Hartman and the Irish to down Elko’s crew. The man at quarterback this season, by all projections, will be the guy Elko oversaw last year in Durham: Riley Leonard. Coincidentally, Leonard suffered a nasty injury in the closing moments of that Notre Dame game that sent the Duke season off-track.

As I said, there are storylines galore here. Combine that with the fact that the Aggies will be facing lesser competition over the next few weeks on their schedule (a trip to Gainesville is the highlight, but the Gators will likely be in pretty rough shape in 2024), and this is a chance for Texas A&M football to announce themselves in a big way.