At the SEC Media Days, the questions and comments taken on by the Tigers and Aggies revolved around how tough it would be for the teams to make the transition from the Big 12 to the SEC.
The consistent responses from the two teams were that they were ready and unwilling to back down from the competition.
The numbers don’t lie. They will be entering a conference that boasts the last six national champions as well as one that prides itself on playing smash-mouth football on both sides of the ball.
The Missouri Tigers are coming off of a slightly above-average 2011 season, finishing 8-5 overall, 5-4 Big 12. But there are some bright spots from last year that they will be bringing to the SEC.
In 2011, the Tigers boasted the best rushing offense in the Big 12 and the No. 12 offense nationally. One of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the FBS, James Franklin, will be commanding that offense. Franklin put up 2,733 yards and 20 touchdowns in the air as well as racking up 839 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground in 2011.
Franklin will also have a couple of big targets returning in 2012. Senior T.J. Moe and junior Marcus Lucas were as reliable as any receiving corps and helped pad some of Franklin’s numbers throughout the season.
Their offensive line is a different story. The Tigers lost three starting linemen from last year and are considered undersized compared to most others in the SEC, especially against traditionally larger defensive linemen. Star running back Henry Josey will also not be returning.
Even with their high-powered offense, the biggest question is how they will fare against the fast and dominant SEC East defenses.
It will be interesting to see how the Tigers’ spread offensive will compare to some of the SEC’s finest.
Entering the SEC West are the Texas A&M Aggies who finished a marginal 7–6 overall, 4–5 Big 12. Their record and tendency to blow halftime leads led to the firing of coach Mike Sherman and hiring of former Houston coach Kevin Sumlin.
Sumlin has a steep task ahead if he plans on making a splash in the SEC West. With teams like Auburn, Alabama, LSU and Arkansas, the Aggies will struggle to steal wins. They return only 15 starters from last year and are forced to replace star quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Sophomore quarterback favorite Jameill Showers will have a big target with wide receiver Ryan Swope, who decided to return for his senior year. Paired with five-star running back Trey Williams, the Aggies may have a chance to put some points on the board.
Texas A&M’s biggest contribution to the SEC is the tradition it brings. It starts with Kyle Field in College Station, Texas that sits 82,589 rowdy fans. Labeled at the 12th Man, Aggie fans are led by Yell Leaders that host events such as The Midnight Yell that fits in comfortably with many other SEC traditions. Look forward to the chant “Gig ‘em’” becoming a household name in the west division.
Only time will tell how successful the SEC newcomers will be in 2012 and years to come. Both teams will have their chance to prove what they are made of early in the season as Missouri plays host to Georgia in its SEC opener Sept. 8., and Texas A&M hosts Florida at Kyle Field on the same date.