It only gets tougher for Texas A&M

Updated: October 17, 2003, 2:19 PM ET

LINCOLN, Neb. -- Texas A&M went 3-3 over the first half of its football schedule, and it only gets tougher from here.

When the Aggies (1-1 Big 12) visit No. 18 Nebraska on Saturday, they'll begin a second-half stretch that has them playing opponents with a combined 29-7 record. That's the most difficult remaining schedule in Division I-A, according to the NCAA.

After Nebraska, the Aggies play Oklahoma State and Kansas at home, Oklahoma and Missouri on the road and arch-rival Texas at home.

A&M coach Dennis Franchione said he doesn't look at the meeting with the Cornhuskers (5-1, 1-1) as a crossroads game.

"I'd hate to think that if we didn't win this game that we're going to go down a bad path," he said. "They've only won 99 of the last 104 games they've played (at Memorial Stadium), so there's some pretty good odds in their favor in this one in that regard."

The Aggies will face some of the nation's top offenses the rest of the season. Nebraska's is not one of them.

Defense, traditionally the Aggies' strength, has been a liability so far. A&M is giving up 381.7 yards a game, including 234.5 through the air.

But an offense that is cranking out 441.5 yards a game gives the Aggies a chance to produce more points than they give up.

Seeing what Missouri quarterback Brad Smith did against Nebraska gives the Aggies confidence against a Husker defense that had been the nation's best through five games. Smith scored four touchdowns, rushed for 123 yards and passed for 180.

"I don't believe our guys would have sat around and bemoaned the fact if (Nebraska's defense) had stoned Missouri," Franchione said. "But it was good to see some of the things that happened in a positive way for them moving the football."

A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal, like Smith, is a dual threat.

"We put every play Brad Smith ran in our offense this week," Franchione said, laughing. "They are similar styles -- athletic, good passers, can make things happen."

Nebraska is hoping to bounce back after its first loss to Missouri since 1978.

Husker I-back Josh Davis said he and his teammates may get some good out of the loss after winning five straight to open the season.

"The success, we were taking some of that for granted," he said.

"Everybody was saying we had a pretty good team, and I'm sure we bought into the hype," wide receiver Mark LeFlore said. "The Missouri game was like a freak accident."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

SPONSORED HEADLINES

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES

MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM