[T]here is a lot to like about Texas A&M, and they should be in position to maintain 2010's gains, but taking a third straight large step forward is rare. The Aggies benefited from quite a bit of fumble luck and a somewhat unsustainable YPP margin, but maintenance should not be an issue with the outstanding level of experience and solid talent base. So basically, we're talking about degrees here. Is A&M going to be good? Absolutely. Just probably not "Top Five" or "Top Ten" good. And expecting that level of play from a group whose four-year F/+ rank is 56th (behind programs like Wake Forest, Rutgers and N.C. State) is a bit unfair. A&M has made significant strides since the incredible lows of Mike Sherman's first year (2008), but they most likely aren't an elite team just yet, nor did they play like it even late last fall. ... We should probably know what we're dealing with by the second week in October here. After warmups against SMU (a tricky but extremely beatable team) and Idaho, A&M faces another brutal early stretch: Oklahoma State, Arkansas at Jerry World, and Texas Tech in Lubbock. If they're 5-0 after that, then they are indeed set up for an elite-level run. But they'll most likely be somewhere closer to 3-2 or 4-1 and hoping to position themselves for second or third in the conference. Those who remember the still-recent lows of 2008 should remain very impressed by that; those expecting darkhorse national title contention will find that disappointing.From my Texas A&M 2011 preview piece at SBN. Really happy with this one.