Texas A&M Aggies Odds to Win the 2015 College Football National Championship
by Alan Matthews - 8/19/2014
I think it's fair to say that one of the best decisions by any school in Division I football that has been made this century was Texas A&M jumping at the chance to leave the Big 12 -- and the shadow of Big Brother Texas -- for the SEC. Now it's not even close which program in the Lone Star State has more national relevance. Of course, a lot of that was due to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, probably the most popular player ever -- I say that in this new social media age. Even when Tim Tebow played, Twitter and the like weren't as predominant as they are today.
Now the question is what direction the A&M program takes with Manziel now flipping off Washington Redskins as a member of the Cleveland Browns. I believe it's in great shape as long as Coach Kevin Sumlin stays. He has won at every stop and produced terrific offenses. Sumlin also is recruiting very, very well, leaving Texas in the dust for sure. Alas, I think Sumlin is in the NFL within two years -- maybe even after this season with the Dallas Cowboys. There are several GMs in that league with their eyes on him.
Texas A&M Aggies Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Story Lines
The guy who will attempt to fill Manziel's big shoes will be sophomore Kenny Hill, a decision that was announced over the weekend. Hill beat out true freshman Kyle Allen, the top overall QB recruit in the nation by some services. Hill wasn't a super-recruit like that but does have some experience, going 16-of-22 for 183 yards and a touchdown last year in mop-up duty. Hill, the son of former MLB pitcher Ken Hill, ran a similar up-tempo program at Dallas-area high school powerhouse Southlake Carroll. He's mobile like Manziel was. Don't be shocked if Allen gets some time as well. Allen is more of a pocket passer.
The offense should remain quite good. Star receiver Mike Evans and left tackle Jake Matthews were both Top-10 picks in May's draft, but the Aggies have one of the top recruits from last year's class in receiver Ricky Seals-Jones, who is 6-foot-5 (and redshirted), one of the top in this year's class in Speedy Noil as well as veteran Malcome Kennedy (60 catches, 658 yards, 7 TDs) returning. Even with leading rushers Manziel and Ben Malena gone, there's a deep stable of running backs -- the team will run more this season -- and the line will still be one of the nation's best, led by tackle Cedric Ogbuehi, who could be a Top-5 pick next year. Texas A&M already holds the SEC single-season records for total offense (7,261 yards in 2012), yards per game (558.54 in 2012), passing yards (4,593 in 2013) and first downs (357 in 2012). It may not be that prolific but still one of the SEC's best.
I'm not sure if the fact there are nine defensive starters back is a good thing or not (plus the addition of Class of 2014 No. 1 defensive end Myles Garrett). That unit was lousy in 2013, ranking last or nearly so in the SEC and in the bottom 30 nationally in most major defensive categories (109th in total defense). Texas A&M allowed 14 more TD passes, for example, last year than in 2012. Not surprisingly, there's a new secondary coach in Terry Joseph.
A&M opens with a very tough matchup next Thursday at SEC East favorite South Carolina, which is a 10.5-point favorite. The Aggies are +315 on the moneyline, and the total is 57. The teams haven't played since A&M joined the SEC. While that looks like a probable loss, the Aggies should win their next four: vs. Lamar, vs. Rice, at SMU and against Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, in which A&M has opened as an 11-point favorite.
The Aggies better win them all or they might not make a bowl game because the rest of the schedule is a beast other than Nov. 1 against Louisiana-Monroe. After Arkansas, it's at Mississippi State (Bulldogs are -4), home to No. 18 Ole Miss (a pick'em) and at No. 2 Alabama (-17). Think the Tide are glad Johnny Football is gone after what he did to that defense the past two years? Then comes that UL-Monroe matchup before ending with three more tough ones: at No. 6 Auburn (-14.5), vs. No. 24 Missouri (+5) and vs. No. 13 LSU (-5). All three Tigers teams beat A&M last year, with the LSU game being a 34-10 rout in what might have been Manziel's worst game as a collegian.
Texas A&M Aggies 2015 National Championship Odds and Trends
Odds courtesy of 5Dimes . A&M is +11000 to win the national championship, +5000 to win the SEC and +2800 to win the loaded West Division. The Aggies don't currently have odds to make the College Football Playoff. Texas A&M's "over/under" wins totals are 8.5 (under -650 favorite), 8 (under -475 favorite), 7.5 (under -190 favorite), 7 (under -120 favorite) and 6.5 (over -175 favorite. The site lists Allen at +15000 to win the Heisman, but I wonder if he might be taken down now that Hill has won the job for the time being; or maybe at least add Hill as an option. The Aggies were 5-8 against the spread last season (5-4 at home) and 9/4 O/U (7-2 at home).
Texas A&M Aggies Odds to Win the 2015 National Championship Predictions
This team could be spectacular next season, but I do believe this is a bit of a transition year. If A&M were in the Big 12 or ACC it might be the second-best team in the conference. In the SEC it might be seventh. The Aggies finish 8-4 -- probably the four defeats coming in the four true SEC road games -- and get a middling bowl. But look out in 2015 if Sumlin sticks around.
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