Before Saturday, there was a giant gap in the SEC between the “Fab Five” of the conference’s elite, and the “Struggling Seven” of the conferences basement, with Texas A&M and Mississippi State floating somewhere in between.
Nobody in the league’s top half (Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, LSU, Alabama, A&M and Mississippi State) had lost to anyone in the league’s bottom half, so you could make the case that the Aggies were in the elite of the league. However, one difference between A&M and the top five was that each of those five teams had a win over someone else in the top five. South Carolina beat Georgia who beat Florida who beat LSU who beat South Carolina, and Alabama beat LSU.
That’s why even though A&M met the requirement of not having lost to anyone in the SEC’s bottom half, they still didn’t quite belong in the conference’s elite.
By knocking off Alabama, the Aggies firmly entrenched themselves into the elite group of the conference for this season. Now, the fab five is a super six. Everyone in the six has beaten someone else in the six, and only lost to other teams within it.
Why does this matter? Because it’s almost bowl season. A&M is no longer a clear tier behind LSU, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, and with Florida’s date with Florida State and Georgia still having to face Alabama in the SEC Championship game, all of a sudden the Aggies could be a potential BCS team.
Even to the national media (like CBS who has A&M ranked first in their SEC power rankings,) that Florida game was ages ago. That was a different team with a different quarterback. When people think of Texas A&M right now, they aren’t thinking of the team that lost to LSU, they’re thinking of the team that beat Alabama.
That’s opening doors on the recruiting front and possibly on the Bowl front as well.
A&M not only has the most exciting team in the SEC, but also its most exciting player. Johnny Manziel’s 340-plus yard performance against Alabama has vaulted him into the conversation with the nation’s elite. Manziel has done more, against better competition, than anyone else in the country (more on that later this week.)
Saturday’s win might not have changed things inside the Bright Complex, where players and coaches were already confident in what they were doing, but it’s certainly changed A&M’s national perception.
Last week A&M was a good story because they had proved they belonged in the SEC, but now they have proved they belong in the SEC’s elite.
And that changes everything.