While many of you were lounging around with a five thousand calorie turkey hangover, I was diligently behind the wheel on my way down to see the most heated rivalry in Texas College Football. Unfortunately, all my favorite barbecue haunts were shut down for the day so in lieu of the turkey dinner, I opted for a chicken sandwich at the Whataburger during the three hour jaunt down to Austin. Ah, the untold glamour of the Pigskin Pursuit.
This was the first game of a three game, three day odyssey during Thanksgiving weekend that would take me to Austin, Texas; Lincoln, Nebraska and Columbus, Ohio. That’s Texas, Nebraska and Ohio State for those of you following at home, not a bad way to spend rivalry weekend. Beats a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Dating back to 1894, the Texas vs Texas A&M matchup is the third longest running rivalry in College Football. Although Texas owns dominance of the series with a 75-36-5 record, this is a heated rivalry that in the state of Texas has undoubtedly caused more than its fair share of family Thanksgiving dinner table squabbles over the last 116 years. In fact, in both school songs “Texas Fight” and the “Aggie War Hymn” each school makes a point to denigrate the other in the lyrics. You may recall our trip down to College Station for this game last year, and you can freshen up on it here:
While the Aggies have struggled against the Longhorns the past couple of years, this year set up to be something different. A&M was ranked in the top 20, held a formidable 8-3 record, and a win would put them in contention for the Big 12 Championship Game. Texas on the other hand, has stumbled this year, hampered by an interception prone quarterback, revolving door at tailback and unusually porous defense. Prior to the matchup they carried dismal 5-6 record into the contest, and a loss would knock the Longhorns out of bowl contention for the first time since 1997. Patience is growing thin with the Burnt Orange faithful in Austin, and fans are quick to forget their team played for a National Championship not even a year ago.
On an unusually chilly night in Darrel K. Royal stadium, the game lived up to the hype as both teams were embattled in a defensive standoff until late in the second quarter. Aggie running back Cyrus Gray then broke the game open with an explosive 84 yard touchdown run to knot the game at 7-7 heading into halftime. Gray would be a one man highlight reel on the day, as he would later scamper for another 48 yard touchdown run while racking up 223 yards on the ground. Between Gray and injured starter Christine Michael, the Aggie backfield will remain quite formidable for another year. On the Texas side of the ball, the Longhorns struggled to put together any momentum or sustain drives. Predictably, maligned quarterback Garrett Gilbert tossed a pair of interceptions, one of which was a critical game ending pick. Even the Longhorn crowd was discernibly flat on the night, reluctantly cheering meekly for the Horns and routinely being drowned out by the exuberant Maroon faithful and internationally famous Fightin’ Texas Aggie Band.
This was my second year in a row spending Thanksgiving at the Lonestar Showdown, and I can’t think of a better way to spend it than under the lights of some premier College Football in Texas. Though certainly not as rewarding as sharing the day with family lounging around a crackling fire, you’re never alone surrounded by 100,000 or so other rabid college football fans. It’s what the Pilgrims intended.
Special thanks again to my friends Jared and Kimberly. It’s always a pleasure to meet up with them and their family for Longhorn games, and hopefully next year will be better fortunes for them in Austin.
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