On, Nov. 12, 2012, two days after Texas A&M beat top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, The Bryan-College Station Eagle ran a poll: What's the biggest win in Texas A&M football history?
The six choices:
1. Saturday's upset of No. 1 Alabama
2. 1940 Sugar Bowl over Tulane in A&M's national championship year
3. 1968 Cotton Bowl over Bear Bryant's Alabama team
4. 1998 Big 12 Championship over Kansas State
5. 1999 "Bonfire game" over Texas
6. 2002 upset of No. 1 Oklahoma
The Alabama upset won with 40 percent of the votes. The "Bonfire game," a 20-16 win over No. 7 Texas eight days after 12 people were killed and 27 injured in the Aggie Bonfire collapse, finished in a distant second with 23 percent. Recency bias, small sample size (650 total votes) and other factors aside for the meaningless poll, was it accurate? And regardless, could a win over Clemson in Week 2 of the 2019 season top the Alabama upset, Bonfire game, and Big 12 Championship?
I say yes.
Texas A&M has No. 1 wins (e.g. Alabama in 2012, Texas in 1999, Oklahoma in 2002), won notable bowl games (e.g. 1968 Cotton Bowl, 2012 Cotton Bowl), and earned huge early-season wins over highly ranked teams (e.g. TCU in 1956). They own three national championships, though none since World War II, and 18 conference championships, though those are conference championships, not national championships.
CFB Rankings: No. 1 to No. 130 (Updated Weekly)
Beating the nation's best team in Death Valley would mean Texas A&M is a legitimate playoff and national championship contender. It means they can beat Auburn, Alabama, LSU, and Georgia this season. Will they roll through the most difficult schedule in college football? I wouldn't bet on it, but beating Clemson means they can beat each of those top-10 teams. It means they have top-four potential, and it means the Jimbo Fisher era is on a championship track.
If Texas A&M beats Clemson but stumbles to an 8-4 record, obviously, it would fall from its perch. For now, however, a win over Clemson would be the biggest in program history.