Turns Out: A&M hammered South Carolina 52-28.
Every year we go into a season with certain narratives, a byproduct of humans' innate desire for stories. In Week 1, two games can seriously disrupt our narratives about the SEC in 2014 if they wind up going differently than predicted.
One is Arkansas at Auburn, but it's unlikely that the severely undermanned Razorbacks will win a road game against the defending SEC West champs. Even if the Hogs are better and the Tigers are worse than last year, AU should still get the win.
The other is Texas A&M at South Carolina. The Gamecocks are the consensus pick to win the East; the Aggies are the consensus fifth-best team in the West. A&M is still ranked No. 20/21 in the Coaches/AP Polls, but SC is ninth in both. As of posting, South Carolina is a 10.5-point favorite. Steve Spurrier hasn't lost a home game in almost three years, and the game is in Columbia.
With TAMU having lost significant playmakers on offense and being still in rebuilding mode on defense, the story for this game is pretty simple and straightforward. The young talent from College Station will show a precocious ability to give the locals in Columbia trouble, but the deeper, more experienced home team will prevail in the end. Easy, right?
It's almost a little too easy, which is why I'm asking: what happens if Texas A&M wins?
The most obvious thing is that it gives Georgia a leg up in the SEC East race. The Bulldogs can completely flop in their opener and it doesn't matter for those purposes because it's against Clemson. If the Gamecocks are not ready to go, they immediately begin staring down the same problem they've had the past three seasons: not winning the East despite having defeated the eventual division champ.
But beyond that, an A&M win would blow a giant hole into the preseason narrative immediately. South Carolina is an established power that can just reload each year? Whoops. Texas A&M has to rebuild after losing Johnny Manziel? Maybe not. And speaking of Georgia, a loss by Carolina would toss some doubt the Bulldogs' way, particularly if they in turn lose to Clemson. Both teams are going with seniors as first year starters at quarterback and have big time running backs, so people will mentally group them together no matter how different everything else ends up being. If both of them lose this week, what do you make of the East?
An A&M win won't impact how anyone views the top of the West, with Alabama, Auburn, and LSU pretty firmly entrenched up there. If LSU falls to Wisconsin there might be some talk of A&M ending up in third, but that's about it for now. An Aggies team that hasn't fallen off much would throw a monkey wrench into the expectations that this could be a breakthrough year for one or both of the Mississippi schools, though.
So what do you think? What will be your takeaway if Texas A&M upsets South Carolina on Thursday night?