Eventually, the schedules for Texas A&M and Missouri will lose some of their novelty. That might take awhile, particularly given that it could take a few more years until the Aggies and the other other Tigers work through all of the SEC teams the first time. And there is plenty of novelty for A&M this year, from the first edition of its newest (if slightly contrived) rivalry to its new Turkey Day opponent. But there's also a good deal of old, particularly when it comes to the non-conference schedule.
Welcome to the SEC. Welcome back to the SWC. The first game of the year marks the new "rivalry" between the Aggies and South Carolina. It also marks the first game on the SEC Network -- and the first game between Texas A&M and the Gamecocks. After that game and a visit to the bakery with Lamar, TAMU goes back to its Southwest Conference roots with games against Rice, SMU and Arkansas. While all three were old SWC members, all three are now members of different conferences. Rice is in Conference USA, SMU has moved on to the American Athletic and Arkansas is, of course, a member of the SEC. Keep in mind, the SWC dissolved less than 20 years ago. The Aggies have a great shot of going at least 4-1 by the end of the September, and a decent chance at ending the month undefeated.
The pivot. So here's a curiosity that the Aggies couldn't really control: They do not have a bye week before facing Alabama, but instead have one after facing the Tide -- and before Louisiana-Monroe. In any case, this is a critical month for Texas A&M. The match-ups against the Mississippi teams could end up being swing games between going to Birmingham in the postseason -- or getting to a bowl at all -- and playing on New Years Day. As the calendar changes to November, it gets tougher.
A trio of Tigers. After the aforementioned Monroe game -- careful, Aggies; they like surprising SEC teams -- Texas A&M faces three teams that have all played in the SEC Championship Game in the last three seasons. That's a tough month. Here's where the importance of the Mississippi games comes into play: The only way that the Aggies can be confident of a bowl game is if they have five wins at the beginning of November. TAMU could be a good team and still lose the last three games of the year. The season ends on Thanksgiving once again, this time against LSU -- the only charter member of the SEC against whom A&M has a real rivalry -- instead of Texas.