Sports

College Football Preview: Texas vs. Texas A&M

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At the end of the season, college football’s third longest rivalry will come to a halt. Texas and Texas A&M will meet for the 118th and possibly final time Thursday. The end of the in-state rivalry is a scheduling casualty of the Aggies move to the SEC next year as the Longhorns’ non-conference schedule is filled through 2017.

Known as the home of the Twelfth Man, Kyle Field is one of the country’s rowdiest stadiums; holding upwards of 90,000 raucous fans and doesn’t get much louder than when the Aggies take on the Longhorns. Since 1900, the last regular season game has usually been reserved for the in-state rivalry, with a few exceptions including a three-year hiatus from 1912-1914. Until 2008, the game had usually been played on Thanksgiving weekend, but the last four meetings have taken place on the holiday itself. In 1994, the game was moved to the first weekend in December due to A&M’s TV restriction during probation. The Longhorns lead the series 75-37-5, and would love nothing more than to send the Aggies to the SEC with one final loss at the hands of the ‘Horns on their own turf.

Texas is coming off a 17-13 defeat by a surprise Kansas State squad, who are in second place in the Big 12.  Texas outgained Kansas State 310-121, but neither returning backs Malcolm Brown nor Joe Bergeron could find the end zone. In back-to-back losses where the defense dominated both contests, Texas has scored just one touchdown. The Longhorns held the Wildcats to 83 passing yards and 38 yards on the ground, sacked Collin Klein five times, and allowed only eight first downs in the contest. Texas defense leads the conference in total (294.5 ypg), rush (94.90 ypg), pass (199.6 ypg), and scoring (20.6 ppg) defense.

The Aggies were hoping for a shot at the Big 12 title when they opened the season ranked at eight, but early consecutive losses to Oklahoma St and Arkansas ended their conference run. Last week, Texas A& M handed Kansas their nine loss of the season, defeating them 61-7 in College Station. Ryan Tannehill gave his best performances of the year, completely 21-of-26 passes for 280 yards and three touchdowns. Cyrus Gray rushed for 94 yards and three scores in the first half and did not return after the break with a shoulder injury. Gray has been wearing a sling to immobilize the shoulder, but his status for the Thursday afternoon game is unknown as of the time of this posting. The Aggies are second in the Big 12 in rushing defense (107.82), but last in passing defense, allowing 292.3 yards per game. Fortunately for A & M, Texas only passes for an average of 181.6 yards per game, which is eighth in the conference.

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The Aggies won’t be taking the Big 12 Title with them to the SEC, but they do hope to take last bragging rights with some help from the 12th man, while Texas would like nothing more than to send Texas A & M off empty-handed.

Dory LeBlanc, covers Gator sports for Gators First and BourbonMeyer.com. Not just a college sports enthusiast, Dory is also a fan of NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB. Born outside Philly, she moved to Tampa, and now resides in Illinois, giving her a broad perspective on the sporting world. You can follow Dory on twitter @DoryLeBlanc