11/22/2011 07:03 PM
Texas Aggies Bid Big 12 And Longhorns Farewell
Thursday's matchup at Kyle Field comes 50 years and one day after the first time I witnessed the Texas Aggies and Texas Longhorns go at each other on the gridiron. Standing at the south end of the stadium with my dad following Texas' 25-0 win, a disappointed kid with tears streaming down his face, my grandfather approached us and asked me what was wrong.
"We lost, grandpa," I blubbered.
He just smiled and chuckled, "That all depends on who we are."
It was a tough lesson in life, discovering there were – Gasp! – Longhorns in my family. That same grandfather, in a last-ditch attempt to dissuade me from attending A&M, would later tell me that the only women who went to Texas A&M were "corn-fed gals looking for their Mrs. degrees." He was at least happy when I married a Longhorn, perpetuating the family's division of loyalties.
There will be a little sadness again this week, win or lose, when the two old rivals meet for the final time as conference opponents. The Aggies are heading to the SEC next season and Texas has told them it will be 2019 before the series can resume, so bragging rights for quite some time are on the line.
The folks in charge of setting the college football betting lines feel those bragging rights will belong to Texas A&M who opened as an 8½-point favorite.
Bragging rights is about all that is on the line in this contest. Both teams have the necessary six wins for bowl eligibility, but just barely with both schools suffering disappointing seasons. The outcome might mean a slightly more prestigious game, but we may be talking about the difference between the Pinstripe Bowl in the Bronx to the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston.
No team in college football has been more disappointing than the Aggies. Ranked No. 8/9 in the two preseason polls, and No. 10 in the Don Best Linemakers Poll, Texas A&M has blown its chance to be part of the BCS discussion by coughing up four double-digit leads in the second half to account for all but one of the five losses.
It's almost unthinkable that A&M needed last Saturday's 61-7 romp past Kansas to become bowl eligible. Thirty-two point favorites at home over an extremely poor Jayhawks squad, the victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Aggies and was just the third winning ticket for their backers against the spread this season.
Every facet of the game deserves blame in A&M's shortcomings. Ryan Tannehill has been directing an A&M offense that ranks among the leaders in just about every category, but turnovers have come at critical times and the unit has come up short when outcomes were on the line. The defense deserves its fair share of the blame, getting some credit for facing a strong offensive conference but also still unable to make that one extra stop required to win a contest.
Mike Sherman and his coaching staff are guilty as well. The Aggies have played one of the toughest schedules this season, but the talent is definitely there for Sherman, and the second-half collapses are inexcusable.
Mack Brown and Texas can still have a solid season despite the disappointment from the last two weeks. After climbing to 16th in the BCS with a 52-20 cruise over Texas Tech in Week 10, the Longhorns have dropped a 17-5 decision at Missouri and 17-13 home defeat to Kansas State most recently. Texas will finish up in a week at Baylor, so closing out an 8-4 campaign with road wins over the Aggies and Bears would make for a good rebound from last year's 5-7 squad that missed the bowl season.
The offense has been a Jekyll & Hyde unit this season, ranking 48th nationally by averaging over 405 yards per game and the bulk of that distance on the ground (223.8 YPG). Those numbers have been reduced dramatically the past two games in which the offense has averaged under 280 yards and scored just one touchdown in consecutive losses to Missouri and Kansas State.
Quarterback has been the most-troubling position, beginning the year with Garrett Gilbert before moving to the duo of David Ash and Case McCoy. The unit could still be without guard Sedrick Flowers (shoulder) and receiver Jaxon Shipley (knee) who are both questionable for Thursday's contest.
The Aggies are also dealing with a couple of injuries and could be especially thin in the backfield. Leading rusher Cyrus Gray, who went over the 1,000-yard mark in last week's win, is doubtful with a shoulder injury. Christine Michael was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in the loss at Oklahoma a couple of weeks back, and was just a yard short of 900 when he was hurt. It would leave a heavy burden on sophomore Ben Malena if Gray is unable to answer the bell.
Several factors favor A&M, starting with the Aggies having a superior offense and a defense that will be facing a much weaker offense than the likes of Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma. Still, the stats reached getting to this matchup won't mean a thing in this one.
Forget home-field advantage for one time at Kyle Field. Yes, if all the Aggies yell at once, they will make more noise than the Texas fans. But this is going to be an emotional, high-energy game on both sides, and the teams have swapped beating each other on their own fields the past two seasons. Winning in College Station hasn't exactly been a problem for Texas who leads the all-time series 75-37-5 heading into this 118th meeting.
Weather should not factor in the battle that kicks off at 8:00 p.m. (ET) on ESPN. The College Station forecast for Thanksgiving evening calls for mostly clear skies, temps in the mid-to-upper 60s at start and very little wind.
Always remember the 3 G's Girls,Golf, Gambling not in any particular order......:2thumbs: