In three weeks, we’ll be dissecting Texas A&M’s season-opening victory over Texas State. More importantly, four weeks from today, the nation will be rehashing how the Aggies fared against defending national champ Clemson.
A&M’s earliest game against a top five-ranked opponent since 1998 kicks off in earnest a much-anticipated season that also includes second-ranked Alabama, third-ranked Georgia and sixth-ranked LSU.
This season has plenty of “juice,” to steal a word from the vocabulary of head coach Jimbo Fisher. A&M has played four top 10 teams in a season only twice in the last 39 years — 1998 and 2014.
The 1998 season is magical because A&M won the Big 12 title, rebounding from a 23-14 season-opening loss to second-ranked Florida State to win 10 straight games, including a 28-21 victory over second-ranked Nebraska as the Aggies won the Big 12 South. A&M lost the regular-season finale at unranked Texas but bounced back for a 36-33 double-overtime victory over second-ranked Kansas State in the Big 12 title game, the program’s last conference championship.
We all thought 2014 was going to be magical after a 52-28 thrashing of ninth-ranked South Carolina in the season opener as Kenny Hill threw for a school-record 511 yards. South Carolina, though, was only a 7-6 team that season, and A&M was but a victory better, the first of four straight disappointing seasons.
The buzz has returned to the A&M program in a big way, starting with hiring Fisher away from Florida State for $75 million. He went 9-4 in his first season, beating a pair of top 15 teams, including a 74-72 seven-overtime victory over eighth-ranked LSU.
Expectations this season are high despite the challenging schedule. The Aggies are ranked 11th in the coaches’ poll, adding to the hype. And considering A&M will have only a handful of senior starters and a much easier schedule next season, there’s talk of making the College Football Playoff, next season, if not this season if the stars align.
These are exciting times for everyone connected with the program, but if there’s one thing history has shown, it’s make sure you enjoy the current success.
Third-party ticket prices skyrocket
If you haven’t bought tickets for A&M’s marquee games, you might need to get a loan, since they’ll probably run you at least $700.
A ticket for the Clemson game is listed at $278 by ticketiq.com. Georgia goes for $243, Alabama $144 and LSU $70. StubHub’s prices are Clemson $215, Georgia $200, Alabama $134 and LSU $68.
Those prices vary by $10-$20 seemingly hourly a la the stock market, but they’ll probably vary more after teams play a few games. Georgia, for example, plays Notre Dame on Sept. 21. A ticket for that game at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium is going for more than $500. If Georgia wins that game a ticket to A&M on Nov. 23 will go up. But if the Bulldogs lose to Notre Dame and then lose to Florida on Nov. 2, the cost for an A&M ticket probably falls.
Fan Appreciation Day this afternoon
Sunday is A&M’s annual Fan Appreciation Day. Players and coaches will be available for autographs from noon-2 p.m. in the Gilliam Indoor Track Complex with an open practice at 4:30 p.m. on Kyle Field.
“It’s great to come to a game,” Fisher said. “But if you really want to see something, come to a practice. That’s where the fun is, when you get to see the guys, and I think you really appreciate that these kids they’re not just a gifted group of guys who take it for granted. [But] that they’re putting in a lot of hard work to play and how we practice.”