Using ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) as a guide, Texas A&M (2-0) has a 98.0 percent chance to beat Rice (0-1) on Saturday.


Texas A&M has rocketed 14 spots up the Associated Press Top 25 Poll to No. 7, mainly on the strength of a surprising 52-28 blowout at then-No. 9 South Carolina. Despite one of the scariest offenses in the country, though, Texas A&M may be third or even fourth in the SEC West power rankings, with Ole Miss and Mississippi State representing legitimate threats to overtake them.

The reason: Texas A&M’s defense was miserable in 2013. The Aggies gave up some long pass plays to Dylan Thompson in the season-opening win in Columbia, S.C.

Lamar didn’t represent a real test last week. Rice receiver Jordan Taylor, arguably the team’s best player, ruled out with a sprained left foot and dual-threat quarterback Driphus Jackson (career 52.3 percent completion rate) has a skill set that’s light on throwing and heavy on running.

It’s hard to imagine Texas A&M doing anything that could lose this game. Rice traditionally fields a run-heavy offense. For all of those reasons, the Aggies need to make sure the Owls don’t string together several huge plays in the passing game or on special teams.

Texas A&M’s defense quietly has shown improvement. How much of that is real? We’ll find out more in this game. But the Aggies should put this one away before halftime.