COLLEGE STATION -- It's not every day a team takes down Nick Saban and Alabama. How does one keep its composure after accomplishing one of the ultimate goals?
Texas A&M's 41-38 victory over the No. 1 Crimson Tide will be one fans of the 12th Man will speak of for decades. Not only did A&M's Jimbo Fisher become the first former assistant coach to take down the master, it also ends Alabama's 100-game win streak against unranked opponents.
Then again, did A&M (4-2, 1-2 SEC) ever show it wasn't a top 25 team?
The Aggies will bask in the victory behind an unforgettable performance from quarterback Zach Calzada. The attention, however, has turned to the next week and a road trip to Missouri.
"This game's over with," Fisher said Monday. "I'm tired of talking about it. It's over."
This was a program-setting win for A&M. It cannot become a distraction in preparation for the Tigers.
"They have a point to prove," defensive back Antonio Johnson said. "They have a chip on their shoulder. We have to go into this week just as focused as we were last week."
Attention to small detail played a catalyst in the upset of the college football season thus far. Calzada dazzled behind quality protection from the offensive line. Playmakers like receiver Ainias Smith and tight end Jalen Wydermyer simply made plays.
Yes, the Crimson Tide fought back in the second half behind quarterback Bryce Young. The game was tied at 38 before a pass interference call set up the Seth Small game-winning field goal.
Performances like that come only a handful of times each year. Maybe A&M won't be so fortunate against the Tigers (3-3, 0-2) at Faurot Field.
"It takes ultra focus," running back Isaiah Spiller said. "It takes leadership with guys coming back to reality. Back to practice and focusing on the details and just realizing we have to start all over again. The season ain't over yet."
The Tigers are coming off a 48-35 home victory over North Texas. A preseason favorite to contend in the SEC East, Missouri lost its focus in road losses at Boston College and Kentucky. Defensively, the Tigers have allowed an SEC worst 37.5 points per game this season.
Currently, Mizzou ranks dead last among all FBS schools in run defense by a landslide at 286.8 yards. Arkansas State is the second-worst at stopping the run (268.3).
None of that should matter for the Aggies. The week before taking down the nation's top team, Calzada and the offense found zero consistency against Mississippi State. The Bulldogs entered the week ranked 14th in the conference in pass defense.
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Calzada finished with 135 passing yards and a score. Meanwhile, MSU's Will Rogers carved up the Aggies' then-No. 4 ranked pass defense nationally for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns.
Saban told reporters in Tuscaloosa all week that just because a team isn't ranked top 10 doesn't mean they can't have a top 10-performance on any given Saturday. Fisher would tend to agree.
"It doesn't matter whether you play Bryan High School, College Station High School or you play Alabama ... your standard of how you prepare and play does not matter on your opponent," Fisher said.
The Tigers currently hold a two-game win streak over the Aggies since both moved from the Big 12 to the SEC. All-time, A&M holds an 8-7 advantage since the programs first met in 1957.
Missouri could feel comfortable at the game's most important position. Sophomore quarterback Connor Bazelak is coming off one of his better performances against the Mean Green. For the season, he ranks fourth in passing yards (1,682), fifth in touchdowns (12), and sixth in completion rating (67.0) among conference QBs.
"They've had a chance to win every game and be sitting here 5-1 instead of 3-3," Fisher said on Missouri's season. "It's very much like us."
A&M must have momentum swing its way to remain in the conversation for a chance to represent the SEC West in Atlanta. Two early losses now have the Aggies in do-or-die mode each week to finish 10-2 on the regular season.
Another loss for Alabama would give the Aggies the tiebreaker and a possible shot to face the winner of the SEC East. Should they win out, the College Football Playoff isn't a far-fetched idea. At worst, A&M could likely head back to a New Year's Six Bowl.
But A&M must win out. They must treat every game like it's Alabama 2.0. That starts with keeping composure in practice and translating it over to early Saturday morning.
Remaining humble should also help.
"We're playing every game as big as we can," linebacker Edgerrin Cooper said. "Just focus on the little details, the little mistakes."
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