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Monday, November 20, 2006

Texas Football: The Texas A&M Game 

Week Twelve: No. 11 Texas (9-2) vs. Texas A&M (8-3)
Last Game: Kansas State 45, Texas 42; Nebraska 28, Texas A&M 27
Last Meeting: 2005 -- Texas 40, Texas A&M 29
All-Time Series: Texas leads 73-34-5

The last time Texas A&M defeated Texas on the football field:

Bill Clinton inhabited the White House.

Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq.

The World Trade Center stood, and a majority of Americans had never heard the name Osama bin Laden.

Who Wants to be a Millionaire ruled the American airwaves.

Some people actually feared Y2K.

Colt McCoy was in 8th grade.

Hullabaloo! The way this series has gone the past six seasons it seems conceivable that Colt Jr. might be in the 8th grade before Texas A&M defeats the Longhorns once again.

Some might say that Texas' recent ownership of A&M is the benefit of a momentum swing similar to what Oklahoma employed in its five-year reign of dominance against the Horns from 2000-04. But is that an accurate analogy? The Texas-Oklahoma series often sees one team or the other string together wins in consecutive seasons. The "Lone Star Showdown," on the other hand, has been decidely one-sided in favor of the Horns, save for the Aggies' four-out-of-six year run from 1975-80, and the ten A&M wins in the eleven seasons from 1984-94, which just happened to coincide with the modern-day nadir of Texas football.

Of Texas A&M's two victories in the past eleven years, one came against a 4-7 Texas team playing out the string in the last few feeble moments of the John Mackovic era. The other came when the stars aligned in a game that none of us thought ultimately mattered, given the tragic circumstances of the occasion, until Ja'mar Toombs' celebratory throat-slash gesture made us remember that no matter what the Aggies hate us.

During these eleven years Texas has: made Top 10 finishes routine, won two conference titles (with a potential third on the horizon), seen one star win a Heisman and another finish second, and captured the school's fourth national title. Texas A&M has fired its most successful coach, seen the lion's share of top talent enroll in Austin instead of College Station, and annually found themselves in the Big 12 South's cellar, relegated to rival status with Baylor. Even during UT's darkest days of the 80s and 90s A&M didn't enjoy such a chasm of separation.

With all of this said does anyone really expect Texas A&M to walk into Royal-Memorial Stadium and win?

While I'm thankful for Matt's TWTWB, he's still writing it and I'm leaving town Tuesday night (hence I'm posting this on Monday)

So... Maybe I'll post it later this week. Keep checking back (and not just because I'm trying to drive up my traffic).

The Forrest Gump "That's All I've Got to Say About That" Section

Texas played poorly against Kansas State. The O-Line looked bad; the receivers dropped balls; the linebackers didn't help much with coverage; and the secondary looked lost. In fact you could as far as to say that Billy Pittman and the four starting defensive linemen acounted for the only positives of the night.

All things considered Texas' latest foray into Manhattan represented a Murphy's Law maelstrom. But you knew when Louisville lost that strange things were afoot. Then Auburn lost, Florida escaped, and Cal went down. And just when I thought I was about ten minutes away from finally getting over the 2001 Big 12 title game, the weird confluence of providence met coincidence, and my burnt orange blinders were all that prevented me from seeing what should have been painfully obvious: we were screwed.

Give K-State credit for playing hard (and then going soft in a subsequest loss to Kansas). Give Texas credit for playing themselves out of the national title hunt (a week before Michigan's moral victory would have made our loss moot anyway). Five sacks allowed, four penalties for 40 yards, 3 touchdowns allowed in three minutes during the third quarter, two fumbles in that span, and one punt blocked.

Or was it a partridge in a pear tree? Eiher way it was Merry freakin' Christmas in Manhattan.

In retrospect the one non-Texas game of the evening that bore the most intrigue for Longhorn fans was Boise State's come-from-behind win over San Jose State. Now Texas will almost certainly play the Broncos (?) should they get past A&M and Nebraska.

Happy freakin' New Year in Glendale.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Stephen McGee did his damndest to ruin Texas' Rose Bowl bid last season at Kyle Field. "At Kyle Field" is the key part of that statement. Here's how the Ags have fared in Austin since the last time they won here:

1996: L 51-15
1998: L 26-24
2000: L 43-17
2002: L 50-20
2004: L 26-13

They're not exactly losing squeakers in most of their games at DKR. But anyway, McGee did play a hell of a game, before Michael Huff and Michael Griffin tag-teamed to scramble his brains with about seven concussion-level hits. Now McGee and the Aggies average 203 yards per game through the air, which very well may translate to 300 yards the way Texas' secondary has fared, but A&M has always won games on the ground. That doesn't bode well for them when they take the field against the nation's second-ranked run defense.

Should A&M come out and do to Texas' defense what Ohio State did to Michigan's top-ranked run defense then the Aggies have very good reason to feel optimistic. But McGee is no Troy Smith; Javorskie Lane is no Antonio Pittman; and no one in that receiving corps is even remotely close to Ted Ginn Jr or Anthony Gonzalez. Texas, therefore, isn't going to have to respect A&M's pass offense to the point that it adversely affects their ability to stop the run.

And did I mention that Colt McCoy is playing this week? So unless everyone in burnt orange decides to play as bad as they did two weeks ago then prepare for consecutive win number seven.

If that's enough here are some more (admittedly irrelevant) stats

Texas A&M hasn't beaten a ranked Texas team in Austin since 1984. Nobody playing in this week's game could even walk when it happened. Most had not yet even "swum the channel."

Texas has not lost consecutive regular season games since September of 1998. Texas A&M has lot its last two games.

Texas A&M needs one more victory to reach nine wins for the season. It would mark their first nine-win season since 1998. Texas has won nine games in nine consecutive seasons (counting this season).

Dennis Franchione has never beaten Mack Brown. Mack Brown has never lost to Texas A&M at home.

The Greg Brown Memorial Pregame Premonition

If you've forgotten, this section of the column celebrates its namesake's sixth anniversary this week. See my UNT preview for the backstory.

I don't think I'm going to include this section in 2006 (the whole column will probably get a facelift), because the joke has run its course and I'm never even close on the "premonitions." But for old time's sake...

Michael Griffin picks off McGee's first pass and returns it for a touchdown.

Oh, snap. Now it's going to happen, and y'all are going to have to endure more lame predictions each week.

A look back at my last Texas A&M preview

I'll admit, this is juvenile and not very well-written. But I don't care. It was written two years ago, after all, and I like to think I've matured as a writer (somewhat).

There's an old joke that asks, "how many Texas A&M Aggies does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 50 -- One to insert the bulb and 49 to call it a tradition." In College Station, Texas, they certainly fancy themselves purveyors of tradition. Let's take a look at some of them:

The Corps: This glorified ROTC group exemplifies all that is wrong with Texas A&M. Whether it's showing their bravado by brandishing swords against opposing cheerleaders, or defending their field against opposing fans by inciting a riot, the Corp of Cadets frequently finds ways to embarrass their school. Don't forget the goofy little uniforms and buzzcuts. They're really sweet.

Revielle: As the highest-ranking officer in the Corps, all cadets are required to salute Revielle, and legend has it that if she barks during class then the class is immediately dismissed. She's a menacing figure on the Aggie sidelines, for sure, though I have to ask: if a ten-year old Timmy could handle Lassie without a problem, why does it take 20 cadets to guard Revielle?

Kyle Field: Hey, did you know that Kyle Field is a memorial to WWII veterans and no one is allowed to walk on the field? Hey, do the Aggies know that half the stadiums in America are memorials to veterans and their monument to poor architecture is in no way special?

Aggie Muster: Now this is actually a great tradition (all the lights on campus are turned out and a roll sheet is read of all former Aggies that have passed away over a given time period), so I won't rag on it.

Yell Leaders: Only men can be cheerleaders at Texas A&M. They dress up in ice cream uniforms and say things like "hullabaloo" and "whoop." There's no word on how many former yell leaders are now in therapy, or manning sno-cone stands across the Lone Star State. Yes, Ags, I know that current Gov. Rick Perry is a former Yell Leader, but future Gov. Kay Bailey Hutchison is a former UT cheerleader. Besides, erry has made a habit of flashing the "Hooke'Em Horns" sign at public gatherings. Good luck getting Kay to "whoop" any time soon.

Yell Practice: In case these college-educated students have forgetten how to yell, the Aggies hold a practice before each game. It's quite comical. If you've never attended, then read about it here.

Fightin' Texas Aggie Band: The Corps of Cadets consists of soldier wannabes, while the band consists of Corps wannabes. If you've never seen the Aggie band (or a junior high band perform a John Phillips Sousa medley) then you don't know what you're missing. As Trey McLean says in his weekly Texas Tailgate Talk, "Make sure you stick around and see the most heavily armed college band in the country turn to the right with predictable regularity and dazzling accuracy at halftime."

t.u.: In a clever juvenile manner, Aggies like to refer to daddy as "t.u." It's apparently funny to change the letters around in UT. I get that, because I love to refer to the Aggies as "m&a" and then snicker like a 12-year old girl.

TexAgs: The next time Bill Simmons updates his "unintentional comedy scale," I hope he's visited the forums here first, particularly the "rivalries" board. You'll never find a more wretched hive of scum and penis envy.

The Aggie War Hymn: Hullabaloo Caneck Train Wreck. This boring 4/4 ditty takes twelve mintes to play, spouts off nonsensical words, reeks of obsession with the University of Texas, elicits nauseating mass swaying among Aggie fans and bears an uncanny resemblance to the theme from Yogi Bear (right-click to save), who is obviously smarter than your average Aggie.

Standing Up all Game: Strike another blow for creativity. Aggies stand the entire game, except when the opposing band takes the field. Imagine that. If someone learns of another school where students stand all game then let me know. Of course I'll need proof if I'm going to believe something so outlandish.

12th Man: The whole legend about E. King Gill and how he came out of the stands to help his team is an endearing story. In recent times, I'll bet any of a number of Aggie students could have come out of the stands and given a better effort than the Aggies in uniform.

"Spirit of Aggieland": Aggies never leave early, or so they say. But the past few years, a lot of them never showed up in the first place. And I saw plenty of empty seats in the fourth quarter of last year's 46-15 Texas win.

I could go on and on, as the Aggies only have a few hundred more traditions. But I hardly need to continue making fun of them when they do such a great job of making themselves look ignorant. However, there is one last tradition that, though the Aggies fail to embrace it, has become synonymous with Texas A&M University...

The Aggie Joke: My current favorite... Did you hear that they're relieved in College Station these days? Scientists recently announced that Mad Cow Disease isn't sexually transmitted.

Yeah, I told you it was pretty bad. And did I reall think that joke was funny? Sometimes I think I should delete the first two-plus years of this blog.

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

There are a bunch of them:

1) Ricky Williams "Ran to the Hall of Fame," and he ended up 20 feet in front me in the southeast corner of DKR.

2) The second-closest I've ever come to getting into a fight at a football game involved some jackass Aggie fan in that same 1998 game. He waited until A&M took a late lead before sticking his finger in my face and telling me "that's for you." Now granted I was being boisterous, but far from obnoxious, and I never directed one comment directly toward him. So after a few tense moments (which ended with Kris Stockton's game-winning FG sneaking inside the upright) I turned to ask him what he thought. He was gone. Pansy.

3) Oh, I could say many, many things about Thanksgiving night trips to the State Capitol's south steps to heckle "Midnight Yell," but this is a family blog... or somesuch. I will note that two years ago was particularly enjoying. "BAY-LOR'S BI-ITCH!" "WE'RE NOT RIVALS!" God bless the State Troopers that spend Thanksgiving night providing a human buffer between drunk football fans that like to act a lot tougher than they are.

4) Maybe my favorite exchange with a fellow fan at DKR:

him: Come on Horns. Drive that ball right down their throats and put this game away.
me: Man, I like the way you think.
him (nodding toward my vodka/lemonade): And I like the way you drink.
Semi-Relevant Quote from the Big Lebowski

"So if you could just write me a check for ten percent of a million dollars... five grand..."

Should the Horns embarrass A&M -- and let's face it; it's an outcome that's as likely as it is not -- I get the feeling that some of those maroon-clad boosters might start opening their checkbooks to send Fran on his merry way.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

I refuse to visit TexAgs.Com this week. I just can't do it. But I can guaran-damn-tee you that everything you'll read there is deluded. Find me a rational thought on that cyber-cesspool and I'll give you beer Friday morning.

Know any good Aggie jokes?

This guy apparently does.

Random Texas-Texas A&M highlight that has little to do with this game, but was sweet nonetheless

'Lectric Leland gets Laid Out!

Prediction: Texas 45, Texas A&M 24



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