TUSCALOOSA – Texas A&M wasn't supposed to do this. Not only are the Aggies the new guy in the SEC, but they came from the no-defense Big XII Conference with that pass-happy spread offense that would never work against the top SEC defenses.
After all, they only went 7-6 last year against the Big XII. How in the world could they compete in the big, bad SEC?
Well, apparently they are competing pretty well. The Aggies marched right into Tuscaloosa, smacked Alabama in the mouth in the first quarter, and used just enough big plays and defensive stops to stroll out of Bryant-Denny Stadium with a 29-24 win over the top-ranked Crimson Tide.
"This shows we can compete with anyone in this league," wide receiver Ryan Swope, who had 11 catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, said after the game. "People were doubting us, but we knew what we were capable of doing. We just had to execute, and we did that tonight."
Texas A&M had shown what it was capable of doing offensively throughout the season. The Aggies are actually averaging about a touchdown more per game this year in the SEC than last year when they were in the Big XII. But in their two toughest games, against Florida and LSU, Texas A&M let second-half leads slip away in losses.
But it was that loss to LSU that might have taught the Aggies to believe just how good they could be. Since that 24-19 defeat, A&M has won three straight road games, including wins over 16th-ranked Mississippi State and the top-ranked Tide.
"I knew after that LSU game we could be something special," linebacker Sean Porter said. "Usually I'm really upset after a loss and don't want to talk to anybody, but I left that loss feeling like we had accomplished something. I felt like we got better."
And the Aggies were never content to let the more established SEC programs bully them in their first year in the league. The players and coaches knew they had a good team, and they set out to prove the doubters wrong.
And a road victory over the No. 1 team in the country is a pretty good way to do that.
"We did a lot of things that a lot of people said we couldn't do," Aggie defensive lineman Damontre Moore said. "And now just to prove them wrong is a great feeling. This will show us in the future, when we sit here saying that something's hard or something's impossible, nothing's impossible. You can do anything you put your mind to."
And that something includes crashing the SEC party and knocking the belle of the ball out of the national championship picture for the time being. Not bad for a so-called finesse team.