Zac Al-Khateeb is the senior sports reporter for The Crimson White.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Texas A&M
2011 record: 7-6 (4-5 Big 12)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
2011 was a serious, serious letdown for Texas A&M. The Aggies entered the season with one of the school’s highest preseason rankings, at No. 8 in the AP Poll, and was expected to make a legitimate run at the Big 12 Title, if not the national title. And for the first two weeks of the Aggies’ season, it looked like they were well on their way to that dream.
The following week, A&M suffered a heartbreaking loss to Oklahoma State, giving up a double digit halftime lead to lose 30-29. Then, something weird happened. The next week, the Aggies gave up another huge halftime lead to eventually lose the game, this time to the Arkansas Razorbacks. With the loss, A&M’s national title hopes were over.
Still, the Aggies seemed to rebound over the next three weeks, with wins over Texas Tech, Baylor and eventual Heisman winner Robert Blake Griffin III, and Iowa State. That was about the last good thing to happen to the Aggies that season. The Aggies lost three of their next four games. Even worse, two of the losses featured, yet again, blown leads on the part of the Aggies (two 14-point leads against Kansas State and nine-point lead over Texas.)
The Aggies ended up making and winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl over Northwestern. Even with the win, it was an ultimately disappointing season for Texas A&M.
Key returning starters: RB Cyrus Gray, WR Ryan Swope, LB Sean Porter
2012 outlook: Much like their SEC East counterparts, the Texas A&M Aggies are going to have an interesting year finding out they do in the SEC. The Aggies should have a manageable first month to figure that out, with three cupcake teams and a manageable first game in the SEC in the Florida Gators.
The next month will show how well A&M will fare in the SEC. The Aggies will take on two of the best three teams in the SEC West, in Arkansas and LSU, a decent Auburn team and the Ole Miss Rebels. Two weeks later, the Bryant Bowl will get underway in Tuscaloosa visits the Crimson Tide. A&M will close out the season with a manageable final two games against Sam Houston State and Missouri.
My take on the Aggies? Another good-not-great season. The Aggies have the talent, just not on the level of the SEC, at least yet. And, assuming the Aggies have learned how to not blow their lead, look to see them win seven games in the regular season and make a bowl game.
Final line: 8-5 with a bowl win.
Key games in 2012:
- September 29 vs. Arkansas
- October 20 vs. LSU
- November 10 at Alabama
Key matchups vs. Alabama (11-10 @ Tuscaloosa)
- A&M linebackers vs. Alabama running backs: Texas A&M brings back its top three tacklers at the linebacker position, a unit that helped the defense hold opposing offenses to a paltry 118 yards per game in 2011, ranking them No. 2 in the Big 12. Alabama is a run-first team, so the A&M is going to have to slow down Eddie Lacy, Jalston Fowler and T.J. Yeldon if they want to have a shot at the win.
- A&M receivers vs. Alabama defensive backs: A&M is also bringing back its top three receivers from last year, one of whom had over 1200 yards receiving. And although they no longer have Ryan Tannehill throwing to them, these receivers are used to getting open. And for an Alabama secondary that’s breaking in new starters at three positions, these guys will pose a serious threat.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Missouri.
2011 record: 8-5 (5-4 Big 12)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
Missouri certainly had an interesting 2011. The Tigers started off the season 1-1, with an unimpressive win over Miami (Ohio) and a tough loss to Arizona State in Tempe. The Tigers followed up with a 69-0 thrashing of Western Kentucky, entering the meat of its season at 2-1.
The Tigers had a tough stretch during the middle of its season, losing four of its next six games, including losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas State, all ranked teams. On Nov. 5, the Tigers added another loss to their record, this time to Baylor and eventual Heisman winner RGIII. Two days later, The Tigers were announced as the 14th member of the SEC.
Apparently the Tigers wanted to impress its future conference with a good showing for the rest of the year, and finished the regular season with three-straight wins and a bowl victory against North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. A slow start, a rough patch in the middle, and a smooth finish for the Tigers.
Key returning starters: QB James Franklin, RB Henry Josey, LB Andrew Wilson
2012 outlook: Missouri will enter its first year in a new conference as a mid-tier program, at least for SEC standards. Still, the Tigers are bringing in an impressive resume from the Big 12, landing near the top of the conference in a few key categories: rushing offense (229 yards per game) scoring defense (26 points per game) and total offense (459 yards per game).
The Tigers are going to have difficult games this year in Georgia, South Carolina Alabama and Florida. That first game against the Bulldogs will set the tone for the season, one way or another. And those games against Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama? Yeah, you can count those up as losses. However, Missouri will have manageable ‘tweener games from Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, UCF, Vanderbilt and Kentucky to maintain some semblance of a reasonable schedule.
My take on the Tigers: 9-4 with a bowl win. Welcome to the SEC, Missouri.
Key games in 2012:
- September 08 vs. Georgia
- September 15 vs. Arizona State
- November 03 at Florida
Key matchups vs. Alabama (9-13 @ Missouri)
- Missouri receivers vs. Alabama secondary: The Missouri Tigers’ passing offense was pedestrian last year, especially for Big 12 standards. Still, the Tigers are returning their quarterback, as well as two of their top three receivers from last year. Of course, the arrival of the top overall prospect in the nation, Dorial Green-Beckham, should be a boost for Missouri. Alabama’s secondary should be up to speed this far in the season however, so it should be an interesting matchup.
- Missouri rushing attack vs. Alabama front seven: Missouri will bring in a 1000-yard rushing from last year: running back Henry Josey. Should Josey remain bottled up, however, Missouri may rely on quarterback James Franklin, who had 981 yards rushing last season. Still, Alabama under Saban has been historically good against dual-threat quarterbacks.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Kentucky.
2011 record: 5-7 (2-6 SEC)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
2011 was a kind of hit-and-miss season for the Wildcats. It seemed as if Kentucky would take one step forward one week, and one (or two) steps back the next.
Kentucky ended its season with a step forward, an improbable season-ending 10-7 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. But back-to-back losses against Georgia and Vanderbilt in the two next weeks slammed Kentucky back to square one.
The Wildcats rebounded against perennial punching back Ole Miss before, again, following up with another loss the next week to Mississippi State. And so the season went until Kentucky was finally able to muster wins in consecutive weeks against its final two opponents of the year: out-of-conference cupcakes Central Michigan and Western Kentucky. Unlike in Joker Phillip’s first year at Kentucky, there would be no bowl game for the Wildcats.
Overall, a disappointing season that ended on a semi-high note.
Key returning starters: RB Coshik Williams, QB Morgan Newton, WR La’Rod King
2012 outlook: Head coach Joker Phillips enters his third season at Kentucky a little hot around the collar. After all, an 11-14 record doesn’t bode well for any coach in the SEC. To help his team out, Phillips has brought in two new members to his coaching staff to help the Wildcats with their passing offense and defense, so we may see some improved play there.
Kentucky will also have a reasonable first three games on its schedule to provide the Wildcats with what should be 3-0 start: a trip to Louisville and a visit from in-state opponents Western Kentucky and Kent State.
After that, it’s a crap shoot. Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Georgia and Missouri, in that order, is a tough run for any team, and will certainly be a tough test for the Wildcats. Perhaps too tough to pass. Even after that stretch, the up-and-coming Vanderbilt Commodores could provide Kentucky with a seventh-straight loss.
Samford’s after that, and then Tennessee. Samford should be a win, and who knows about Tennessee with how they’ve played in recent years. Overall, however, this schedule looks to be too tough for the Wildcats.
Still, anything could happen- it just probably won’t. I’m giving Kentucky another bowl-less, 5-7 season.
As the 2012 college football season draws nearer, Crimson White Sports will take a look at each team in the SEC, give our thoughts on how they will do in the league this year, and give some key matchups vs. Alabama, if they are on the Tide’s 2012 schedule. Up next: Florida.
2011 record: 7-6 (3-5 SEC)
Final AP ranking: Unranked
Entering the 2011 season, the Florida Gators believed they could take a step toward becoming the dominant power in the SEC again. And for a while, it looked like they were on the right track. They started off the season with a 4-0 record, and even scored a 67-yard touchdown against No. 3 Alabama on the first play from scrimmage.
Then came everything but locusts. The Tide remembered it was playing a football game, and easily beat Florida into submission, winning 38-10 and knocking out senior quarterback John Brantley for the next two weeks. Following the game, Florida suffered bad losses at the hands of four straight ranked opponents before finally winning against Vanderbilt to “improve” to 5-4.
A win against Furman two weeks later put the Gators in contention for a bowl appearance. Florida did end up in a bowl game, where it beat the Ohio State Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl. Still, it was a hollow victory for what was originally a promising season.
Key returning starters: QB Jacoby Brissett, WR Andre Debose, LB Jon Bostic
2012 outlook: This is going to be a swing year for second-year coach Will Muschamp. It wasn’t too long ago another second-year coach came off a 7-6 record the previous year. As I remember, that coach turned out to do pretty well for himself that season. But let’s get real, Muschamp is not Nick Saban, and there will still be some growing pains for the Gators this year.
Florida’s schedule, as it stands now, isn’t nearly as daunting as last season’s, and should provide the Gators with a reasonable opening month to get their bearings before what will surely be a Week 5 loss to LSU. Florida is going to need that opening month, as it will be breaking in new offensive and defensive coordinators in Brent Pease and Dan Quinn, respectively. Barring what should be tough games against South Carolina and Georgia after that, it’s anyone’s guess.
Still, the Gators will have sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who saw some action last year when Brantley was injured. Brissett will also have Andre Debose, the Gators’ top returning receiver, to throw to.
I’ll give the Gators the benefit of the doubt for 2012: an 8-5 record and a bowl victory.
Key games in 2012:
- October 6 vs. LSU
- October 20 vs. South Carolina
- October 27 vs. Georgia (neutral site)
The Alabama baseball team won its season finale Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs, 6-4. With the win, Alabama improved to 21-34 on the season, its worst record since 1994.
Georgia jumped onto the scoreboards first, scoring off an RBI single in the top of the first inning. The Bulldogs extended its lead in the third, when Alabama starting pitcher Charley Sullivan gave up two earned runs off three hits to put the score at 3-0.
Alabama was finally able to rebound in the bottom of the fourth inning when Austen Smith got the team’s first hit of the day with an RBI single, scoring Ben Moore from second. Alabama tied the game in the next inning, after a two-RBI double from senior Jared Reaves that scored seniors Jon Kelton and Hunter Gregory.
In the Alabama Crimson Tide’s annual A-Day game Saturday, freshman running back T.J. Yeldon proved Alabama still has some talent in the backfield after the departure of Trent Richardson.
In front of a crowd of 78,562 fans, Yeldon helped the White team defeat the Crimson team 24-15 by leading all running backs with 88 rushing yards. He made numerous big runs and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. Yeldon showed some catching ability as well, hauling in a game-high 91 receiving yards and a touchdown. For his performance, Yeldon was awarded with Dixie Howell Most Valuable Player of the Game award.