Our next guest needs no introduction. Well, our guest does, I suppose, but the school doesn't. Today we're checking in with our old friends from Texas A&M and getting their thoughts on Auburn. The teams have split their two meetings since A&M joined the SEC, and last year's win over the seventh-ranked Aggies was the rocket engine which propelled Auburn, still only ranked 24th on that mid-October afternoon, into the conversation.
Our guest today is my pal "Dr. Norris Camacho", part of the ruling triumvirate over at SB Nation's absolutely fantastic Aggie blog Good Bull Hunting. Even if we didn't all owe the good Doctor and his co-conspirators a debt of gratitude for replacing the former Aggie cesspool, I could still assure you that Doc is not just the finest of Aggies, but a great guy despite that debilitating condition. And now, we talk:
Jon: Before we get into the product on the field, this wouldn't be any fun if we didn't dig into off-field topics too. However, unlike the rest of our SEC targets, A&M doesn't have a lot of history with Auburn to work with. Still, in that brief window, what are your worst and most favorite memories in the series so far?
DNC: Even though it was a little before my time, the '86 Cotton Bowl is a favorite memory for any A&M fan. That was the real Wrecking Crew, and the goalline stand to keep Heisman winner Bo Jackson out of the end zone in the fourth was pretty huge as Auburn was still in the game at that point. The worst is probably that horsecollar on Manziel last year that wasn't called.
Jon: Everyone else is getting asked here what they think of K-State, but after having living with you guys for 16 years we've already got a pretty good idea. So instead, we'll ask you this: What's different for A&M now? What's better, and what do you sort of miss?
DNC: The biggest difference I notice is the level of excitement. I'm sure it's mostly a by-product of the initial and unexpected success we had in 2012, but the amount of coverage we get in the SEC just seems greater. The one thing I do miss (and our fans are split on this) is playing Texas, and all that comes with it, including the default sense of camaraderie that all us Big 12 teams shared when Texas would Texas something up.
Jon: Luck plays a part in everything, obviously, and almost no team wins a championship without catching a break here and there. Do you feel Auburn's run to the BCS title game last year was more a function of fortune than talent, or did they really belong?
DNC: There were things that happened along the way (the horsecollar mentioned above, the tipped ball against Georgia) that only happen once in a great while, but the play that beat Bama was not really luck in that same sense: it was good planning and execution. I think they belonged.
Jon: How about this year? What are your impressions of the team in general, and how serious a threat do you think they are to reach the playoff? Other than Nick Marshall, who should we be really concerned about?
DNC: I haven't gotten to watch them a great deal, but they haven't really shown any signs of a dropoff from last year so far. The fact that they have two quarterbacks who can execute that offense without a drop-off is pretty impressive, and Cassanova McKinzy is a real playmaker at linebacker. The SEC West is still pretty wide open, just now with more contenders.
Jon: Granted you probably don't follow K-State as closely (now, anyway) as you do Auburn (which is why we're doing this in the first place), but is there anything you've seen with Auburn that you think K-State is well-positioned to exploit?
DNC: I think that Auburn's rhythm can be disrupted if the Wildcats are able to play keep-away with some extended, methodical drives. K-State also probably has the edge on special teams and I wouldn't be surprised to see you guys go after some punts.
Jon: You've had War Eagle descend on the Station once now, and didn't like the on-field result. As far as their fans, though... what was it like, and what might we expect from our visitors next week?
DNC: I wasn't at the game in College Station last year, but from what I've heard Auburn has a great fanbase. I know that all the guests we've had on the site over the past couple years have been really engaging and civil. The folks I know who traveled to Auburn in 2012 tended to agree.
Jon: Finally, it's that obligatory moment when I wring a prediction out of you. What's your call?
DNC: I KNEW YOU'D DO THIS. I think that K-State will keep it close, but eventually Auburn pulls away. 36-29 Tigers, 'cuz y'all always have weird scores.
We tried really hard to get some Aggie venom toward Auburn on Twitter, but they just don't hate them enough yet. Don't worry, as we get deeper into this series, I forsee lots of quality trolling. Our warmest appreciation to the Doctor for his responses, and if you've never had occasion to visit Good Bull Hunting you need to rectify that immediately. It is, quite literally, everything its predecessor was not. Stay tuned for our next installment, where we hear from another SEC team about their experience with our next foe.