The Missouri Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies were supposed to be afterthoughts in the mighty SEC. After all, the two teams had their share of struggles in the Big 12 and were seemingly being brought in mostly to extend the SEC’s footprint and make the biggest money-making conference in sports even more money.
It turns out they’re doing more than that.
“It made our league better,” Alabama coach Nick Saban told ESPN.com.
Last season, the Aggies were the only team to defeat the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide and went on to enjoy an 11-2 season, ending the year with a blowout victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. Quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman ever to win the Heisman Trophy.
This season, Manziel has picked up where he left off, leading the Aggies to a 5-1 start with the one blemish coming at the hands of the top-ranked Tide 49-42.
The Tigers struggled through injuries and had trouble adjusting to a new league, finishing 5-7 in 2012. However, in year two in the SEC, the Tigers are 6-0 and are fresh off of a huge victory over an SEC power, the Georgia Bulldogs.
“Competition-wise, they both have added something to our conference,” said Ole Miss Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze. “It gives us another market and expands the financial benefits that we all reap.”
The 14th-ranked Tigers will look to beat an SEC power for the second straight week when they host the 22nd-ranked Florida Gators Saturday at 12:21 pm EST. The seventh-ranked Aggies will play host to the 24th-ranked Auburn Tigers Saturday at 3:30 pm EST.