Two weeks ago, Texas A&M would’ve done anything for an ugly win. When you lose at home to Appalachian State and cut a $1.5 million check, you’re going to be the butt of every joke. Gaining 9 first downs and having no offensive life for a preseason top-10 team usually warrants belly laughs from the masses. That’s the way this works.

Two weeks later, A&M is somehow the one laughing.

First, a win against a flawed and now struggling Miami (FL) team wherein the Aggies didn’t exactly turn the page offensively with Max Johnson as the starter. But on Saturday night, what A&M did to rally back against Arkansas felt different, and not just because the Hogs doinked a potential go-ahead field goal off the top of the upright.

Somehow, someway that kick didn’t go in. And somehow, someway, the Aggies have figured some things out to get back on track.

I know, I know. If Arkansas makes a kick and doesn’t make Twitter fire off the same “#CollegeKickers” tweet, we’re probably having a different conversation about A&M.

But at the same time, the Aggies scored 23 consecutive points against a top-10 team after falling behind by double digits and looking like it was about to get boat-raced by the same Arkansas team it dominated for nearly a decade. KJ Jefferson’s goal-line dive, fumble and subsequent A&M scoop and score — with a handoff mixed in — will be perhaps a lowlight of Arkansas’ season.

For A&M? It might’ve been just what the doctor ordered to turn things around.

The awareness of Tyreek Chappell needs more love there.

Was it by any means a clean game? Nope. Even after A&M continued its 3-game winning streak against AP Top 10 foes — that’s the longest active streak in the country — Fisher told the ESPN crew that it was too sloppy with penalties. He’s right. They were in that early hole because, as Fisher said, they’d have a pre-snap penalty seemingly every time they went in motion.

But you know what A&M didn’t do? Turn the ball over. Credit Max Johnson for that.

On a night in which Johnson knew he was going to face pressure against the FBS leaders in sacks, he hung tough. Whether that was floating a pass to Evan Stewart against an all-out blitz for a touchdown or scrambling with his legs to somehow pick up a first down like he did in the 4th quarter, Johnson provided a reminder of what a veteran SEC quarterback brings to the table.

That, combined with Devon Achane, was enough. Achane filled the exact role that A&M fans hoped he would in the preseason. Not only was he the only A&M tailback who got a carry. He racked up a career-high 159 rushing yards, including a 63-yard scamper that came on the other underrated sequence of the night.

With Arkansas up 14-0, Kendal Briles called a pair of running plays for backup quarterback/part-time receiver Malik Hornsby. It stalled a drive that got into A&M territory, and it did so just outside of field goal range, which would’ve made it a 3-score game and put more pressure on Johnson in the passing game.

But that didn’t happen. A&M never faced that insurmountable 3-point deficit like it did against Appalachian State.

That was a joke. Literally any deficit felt insurmountable that day. When you can’t move the football and you don’t have any offensive identity, it’s hard to put faith in much of anything.

Saturday’s win didn’t necessarily mean that A&M found its offensive identity. If anything, that got more complicated with Ainias Smith going out after he got his leg rolled up on. Being without him for any length of time would put more pressure on an unproven group of non-Achane skill players.

What’s clear, though, is that DJ Durkin’s defense is improving. Shemar Stewart blowing up that double pass attempt and staying disciplined on what could’ve been a back-breaking Arkansas play was significant. Chris Russell was the one who made that key hit on Jefferson that helped A&M flip the momentum. Antonio Johnson, who returned as the Aggies’ best defensive player, was everywhere with a game-high 13 tackles.

Those guys at least gave the Aggies a chance. They’ve been mostly solid to start off the season, perhaps with the exception of not being able to get off the field late against Appalachian State. In their defense, it’s tough to get off the field when your offense can’t stay on it for any length of time.

Against Arkansas, A&M didn’t win the time of possession battle, but it at least made it close to an even split. Baby steps? Sure.

That’s going to be the formula for this A&M team. It isn’t going to suddenly become Fisher’s first top-30 passing offense since he had Jameis Winston, and I wouldn’t expect a deep, versatile backfield attack, either.

What I would expect is more games like what we saw in Arlington. That wasn’t about having more 5-star talent or how rich Fisher’s contract is. That was about not letting an opportunity slip away.

Arkansas opened the door. That’s all A&M could’ve asked for on a night when it wasn’t going to show up and impose its will. It was up to the Aggies to actually seize that and regain control of their season. Mission accomplished.

Time will tell if a flawed A&M team can suddenly look like a legitimate force in the SEC West. Maybe it will, or maybe the 8-4 jokes will soon come.

All I know is, nobody was laughing at the Aggies on Saturday night.