June 4, 2007

Big 12 breakdown: Texas A&M

Coming off a losing season, Texas A&M in 2006 posted nine wins for the first time since 1998 - the last time the Aggies reached the Big 12 title game. The Aggies came plenty close again last year. Two points separated them from representing the South instead of Oklahoma. With 17 returning starters and quarterback Stephen McGee, Texas A&M seeks redemption this fall.

BRIEFLY: Aggies looking to make a point in 2007

Entering the spring, fifth-year coach Dennis Franchione reflected on the 2006 campaign while he put the immediate future into perspective. No doubt, the vision of Allen Patrick darting for a career-high 173 yards and the Sooners converting a fourth-and-inches from its own 29 with 89 seconds remaining in 18th-ranked Oklahoma's 17-16 win over No. 21 Texas A&M in College Station crept somewhere in the back of Franchione's mind.

In a season of close shaves, seven of the Aggies' eight Big 12 games were decided by a touchdown or less (5-3 in those contests), including three by a single point. Think about it: A difference of four points, or two points in back-to-back weekends in losses to Oklahoma and No. 25 Nebraska (28-27) in College Station, prevented Texas A&M from at least 11 wins, a South crown, and a shot at a BCS Bowl.

Instead, even a 12-7 win over 10th-ranked Texas in Austin put the Aggies in the Holiday Bowl, where they were romped by 19th-ranked California 45-10 in the program's largest margin-of-defeat in a non-conference game in 18 years.

All of that is behind the Aggies now. And they move forward with more confidence than before.

"(The players) feel good about last year," Franchione told reporters. "What's got lost is if we score two more points in the Oklahoma game, we're playing for the Big 12 Championship. So they know how close we were. We've got 17 starters back, counting the punter and kicker, so they are excited and anxious to get started."

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