This could be the week that Aggies remember at season's end. It needs to be.
Yeah, it's Baylor, and the Bears are not supposed to be very good this year. But many people are questioning just how good the Aggies—who were ranked as high as No. 16 in the nation less than a week ago—really are.
Yeah, they started the season 3-0. They beat Montana State by 31, they survived a triple-overtime scare against Fresno State and they beat up on a Louisiana-Monroe team that had given Clemson fits.
They showed they could run the ball as effectively as any team in the country during those first three weeks. And against Louisiana-Monroe, quarterback Stephen McGee appeared to show what he's capable of through the air.
Then the Aggies traveled to Miami for a nationally televised, prime-time match up against the Hurricanes and things began to crumble—beginning with the opening play from scrimmage. By halftime, thanks in large part to a horrific final minute of the second quarter that included two fumbles, the game was all but over. Unfortunately for the Aggies, it didn't get much better in the second half.
Down 31-0 at the end of the third quarter, the Aggies endured chants of "overrated" from the Hurricane fans—many of which had to be out on parole—inside the crumbling walls of the Orange Bowl for most of the fourth quarter, and the frustration was clearly visible on the sidelines.
This wasn't supposed to happen. The Aggies were supposed to come into Miami and announce their presence on the national stage.
But now the Aggies have been forced back into the constant negativity that seems to have plagued the program for several years.
"What else is new," said offensive lineman Kirk Elder at Tuesday's media luncheon.
Fans are starting to call for head coach Dennis Franchione's head, and making their wish lists for his replacement.
But as dim as the immediate future seems for some, this season is not over just yet, and it behooves everyone—coaches, players and fans—for this staff to right the ship. If that's going to happen, it has to start this weekend against Baylor.
The Bears will be fired up to play at Kyle Field with a three-game winning streak on the line and looking for their first four-game winning streak since 1991. They also know that the last three meetings between the two schools have been decided by a total of 14 points.
The Bears are starting to click on offense, and they've got some confidence heading into the weekend match up at Kyle Field. Although, many still have questions as to whether or not they can continue to be as effective against Big 12 competition.
That offense gives the A&M defense an opportunity to show what it can do against a team who will come out throwing. Have they continued to improve from the 2005 season? Or have they reverted back to those ways?
The offense needs to take out its frustration and exploit the Baylor defense that has given up 379 yards of offense per game—263.5 of which is through the air.
McGee has an opportunity this weekend to throw the ball against the Bears' defense, gain some confidence and take some chances. As the season continues to unfold—and with the showdown against Texas Tech in Lubbock just two weeks away—he's going to need it.
He also has an opportunity to practice what he preaches. He said in Tuesday's media luncheon that it's easy to lead when things are going your way, but you find out your true character when you've got to lead through adversity.
Say what you will about Stephen's ability to throw the ball down field, but there's no doubt that he's one of the leaders that Texas A&M University prides itself on producing.
This week against Baylor, he'll have a chance to prove it. And hopefully—for the Aggies' sake—McGee will do just that, leading the team back out of this cloud of negativity that has perched itself over the Bright Complex, and putting them back on track for a successful season.
Less than a week ago, that seemed so much more likely, but now McGee and Co. have an uphill climb. It's not an impossible climb, but it's going to take some work.
It all starts this weekend.
Aggies must prove themselves this week
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