2014 SEC slate starts, finishes strong

Texas A&M will begin the 2014 season on center stage.

Though the 2013 season hasn't begun, fans can officially begin talking about 2014 with the SEC's release of its 2014 conference schedule on Wednesday morning.

The Aggies will begin the season with some Thursday night football, taking a trip to Columbia, S.C., to play SEC East foe South Carolina on Aug. 28. It will be the first meeting between the schools in their respective football histories and will also be the first game on the SEC Network, which launches in a year.

The rest of the schedule is compsoed of foes the Aggies became familiar with last season and will again this year, primarily their SEC West brethren. One notably different part of the Aggies' 2014 schedule is the date in which they play LSU: Thanksgiving (Nov. 27).

Texas A&M played Missouri on the Saturday following Thanksgiving last season and will do so again this season, but prior to the Aggies' entrance into the SEC, that weekend was traditionally reserved for a battle against rival Texas, usually on Thanksgiving or the day after.

The two have not played since the Aggies changed conferences and no future meeting appears imminent, so the move of Texas A&M-LSU to Thanksgiving seems to signify efforts to establish the game as a new tradition as part of the SEC's rivalry weekend around Thanksgiving.

The Aggies and Tigers are plenty familiar with each other, having met 51 times in their history (LSU holds a 28-20-3 advantage). They've played 12 times since 1986 and the Aggies' entrance into the SEC West means the two will be annual foes moving forward.

LSU has been a perennial SEC championship contender throughout the last decade. Should Texas A&M show the ability to build off its 11-2 inaugural SEC season and establish itself as a consistent SEC contender, a Thanksgiving-weekend game between the two could provide for some high late-November drama for years to come.

LSU and Texas A&M meeting at Kyle Field or in Death Valley with the SEC West division title hanging in the balance on Thanksgiving? It's a future possibility and has a certain appeal to it, especially with the schools' proximity to each other despite having a state border between them.

After the Aggies open their 2014 season at South Carolina, they'll return to conference play on Sept. 27 at AT&T Stadium (formerly Cowboys Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, to play Arkansas. The two will play there annually as part of an agreement that runs through 2024. They played there three times (2009-2011) before going home-and-home last year and this year upon the Aggies entrance to the SEC.

Other road trips on the Aggies' 2014 SEC slate include games at Mississippi State (Oct. 4), Alabama (Oct. 18) and Auburn (Nov. 8) while Texas A&M plays host to Mississippi (Oct. 11) and Missouri (Nov. 15) in addition to LSU at Kyle Field.