What would an opening win over Notre Dame mean for Texas A&M football?

Texas A&M football has a tremendous opportunity in their first game of the year.

Sep 17, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; A view of the stands and the fans and the 12th Man logo
Sep 17, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; A view of the stands and the fans and the 12th Man logo / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Texas A&M football can announce themselves as 2024 contenders with opening win over Irish

As the college football calendar moves to spring, Texas A&M football fans and college football fans in general are beginning to see more and more early rankings and ratings come out. Rosters are beginning to look more settled after the tumultuous early portal window has closed (though late coaching moves have kept it open in one place or another around the country for quite some time).

Those early rankings, though they are subject to some change over the spring and summer, have cemented what will be a huge opportunity for this Texas A&M football team in their opener. Though the rankings have disrespected A&M with a low placement, they also give the Aggies a chance to make a big impression in their first game.

Notre Dame, the opening opponent for the Aggies, is in the top ten, both by the advanced metrics and the early rankings. Unless they have a huge portal exodus in the spring window—unlikely for any team, if history is our guide—then that is likely to hold into the first official AP top 25 ranking of the season.

The Aggies, on the other hand, are right on the cut line, like I just mentioned. There’s a chance they continue to rise as the hype grows, but even if that is the case, I don’t see them entering the year higher than about the 19-21 range.

This is the perfect storm for the Aggies to announce themselves at the beginning of the Mike Elko era. Notre Dame, as a fringe top-10 squad, are considered a dark-horse playoff contender. With a win at home and an impressive performance by the high-level talent that saturates this Texas A&M football roster, the Aggies can effectively steal that mantle and begin to build excitement right from the very first moment of the season.

This is a big game for narrative purposes, too. I think most Texas A&M football fans are excited to see the welcome changes in both offensive and defensive scheme, as well as what the aforementioned talent will look like when coached well. Most neutral observers will not have paid as close attention to the Aggies over the summer, so this will be an occasion to put the nation on notice in one of the biggest games of opening weekend.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk about it; it’s another thing to go out and do it. This team, as talented as they are, are still unproven. I have full faith in Mike Elko to get this team operating at a higher level than they did under the previous regime, but there are still always bumps in the road with a new coach.

One thing I do know, however, is that the magnitude of this opportunity is not lost on the new head man for the Aggies. Having worked at Notre Dame and faced off against them last year—a game the Blue Devils should have won, by all rights—he understands the challenge they represent, as well as how big a win would be in this game.

After the Irish visit town, the Aggies have a string of lower-profile games. They will travel to Florida, but the Gators should be pretty bad. This is the first game where the eyes of the nation will be on College Station, and a loss could relegate the Ags to an afterthought until the next time they play a big game—possibly not until late October vs. LSU, pending how Missouri starts off the season (the Tigers visit College Station in the fifth game of the year). 

A win, though, would be a proof of concept for the first year coach, an announcement that things have changed for the Maroon and White, and will go a long way when the CFP selection committee begins to gather later in the year.

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