How would things have turned out if the Aggies and Tigers stayed in the Big 12 for 2012?
I initially thought of this becacuse of how badly State was beaten by Texas A&M, but thought it might have created some scenarios in which things turned out differently from a national perspective.
If A&M and Mizzou hadn't joined the SEC, MSU would have played at South Carolina in lieu of the home game with the Aggies. So...perhaps it wouldn't have been a woodshed beating, but chances are it would have been a loss. Tennessee would have come to Starkville, just as they did, but UK would have come to Starkville instead of playing it in Lexington - I don't think there would be any difference in outcome. So MSU stays at 8-4, but maybe the way we looked at it would be different.
If the scheduling had stayed as per the usual, the Bulldogs would've gone to Baton Rouge right after the Auburn game. Remember LSU's September struggles against Auburn (12-10 final score) or the week after that vs. FCS Towson. MSU played LSU pretty well in November, but if they had played in September could they have won? Or, even if yet another loss to LSU was unavoidable, would having not gone 7-0 softened the blow of the collapse the second half of the year brought us? State would have been 6-1 going to Tuscaloosa, lost to the Tide, South Carolina, but then beaten Troy or South Alabama before playing Arkansas. So the year would have gone 6-1, followed by 2-4 to end the year.
Of course, if A&M wasn't in the SEC the Crimson Tide would have never lost that game. They would have hosted a game vs. Georgia instead, likely in October. Considering the type of team UGA was in October, and it being in Tuscaloosa, I think it's safe to say they would have won that game. That would have given Georgia two losses, putting Florida in the SEC title game. But I don't think Bama vs. UF would have been as good of a game as the one we got. Alternate: if Georgia's game with Alabama is right before MSU, which is right before LSU, is AJ McCarron able to pull off that comeback in the Valley? Does LSU win that game, and if so the West, setting up a rematch with Florida in the SEC championship game. And does a one-loss SEC champ get into the BCS Title Game because there are two undefeated teams....
Texas A&M would have been in the Big 12, with Johnny Football and those big offensive tackles and solid defense...there's no question they run through that schedule. Their biggest challenges were Florida, LSU and Alabama this year, none of the Big 12 teams were on that level. I think, ultimately, the reason they lost to the Gators was the fact it was the first game they played all year. Per the usual Big 12 schedule, they would have opened with a couple patsies before going into conference play: at Okie State, vs. Texas Tech, at Baylor, vs. Iowa State, at Mizzou, vs. Oklahoma, vs. Kansas State, at Kansas, at Texas. So the two toughest games, OU and K-State, they have at home, and most likely in November when Johnny Manziel was going off.
So I think Texas A&M would have gone undefeated if they hadn't joined the SEC. Sorry Ags, kind of like how we lost out on Cam Newton. Playing in a legit conference, they would have been in the BCS Title, I think. Notre Dame would have still been undefeated, and probably Alabama unless you go with the alternate scenario in which LSU or Florida are SEC champs. So we've got Texas A&M/Notre Dame vs. Alabama or Texas A&M vs. Notre Dame.
Since Johnny Football won the Heisman Trophy, I can't imagine how voters would have put a dynamic player like that behind even Notre Dame. So I think we would have seen A&M vs. Bama. I don't know who wins that game. Sure, Bama lost that game at home, but it was the third game in a really tough stretch for them. Plus, Saban, six weeks to prepare. The only thing we really know is that it would have been a way better national championship game than the one we got.