Inside Texas Texas A&M Game Picks

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By IT Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2009
Copyright © 2019 InsideTexas.com


IT's Bill Frisbie, Ross Lucksinger, Jeff Howe, Michael Pearle and Clendon Ross give you their picks, and their reasoning for the picks, for Thursday's match-up between Texas and Texas A&M at Kyle Field in College Station.

 

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Bill Frisbie, Lead Writer  Second-year Aggie coach Mike Sherman, by his own admission, is old-school. Sherman's management style, whether it's directed at football players or his own children, is "boot up the butt" (again, by his admission).  His persona, by all appearances, is a throwback to a bygone era that would have served him well had he been, say, a coordinator for Bear Bryant or Woody Hayes.

Again, old school.  

So, here's one of the oldest of the 'old school' adages:  defense wins football games.

Now, here are the cold, hard facts. The Aggie defense is yielding 416.2 ypg to check in at No. 100 in all of college football.  The Aggie pass defense is surrendering 259 ypg (No. 110). It really doesn't get much better when it comes to the most important defensive stat of all:  the Aggies are giving up an average of 31 points per game  (No. 99).

Meanwhile, the contrast between the defense Texas will bring to Aggieland Thursday compared to the one the Horns fielded two years ago could not be more stark. Will Muschamp's crew leads the Big 12 in total defense (238.7 ypg) and run defense (50.1 ypg). His scoring defense and pass efficiency defense also ranks in the Top 10 nationally.

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has played it closer to the vest against A&M relative to other series, especially at College Station.  That's why this one might be dicey for a couple of quarters, despite Texas' recent fast starts on the road.

Aggie QB Jerrod Johnson may be the best QB Texas has faced this season (at least, in terms of dual threat and arm strength). It won't matter Thursday night for one reason: De-fense! De-fense! De-fense! Texas 37, Texas A&M 16.

Ross Lucksinger, Inside Texas Editor – Rivalry game this, rivalry game that.

In 2006, the Aggies didn't just win because they “played hard”, they won with a solid, ball-control game plan and because Colt McCoy was beat all to hell.  In 2007, the Aggies didn't just win because of “the magic of Kyle Field”, they won because of an emotionally imbalanced Texas team and a surprise spread passing attack.

On Saturday, the Aggies aren't going to win because “rivalry game” is the only arrow in their quiver.  This Texas A&M team has appeared to be “hot” one weekend and “cold” the next, but in reality it's the same team showing up each weekend, it's just a team that's responding differently depending on the opponent.  That's what happens when you have a very athletic, young team with a poor offensive line.  Does your opponent have the athletes on defense to get to the QB, force him to make mistakes?  Can your team grab momentum early?  Then yes, you're going to blow out the Aggies.  If not, then you're going to get blown out.  It's the reason for the seemingly confusing statistic of Texas A&M averaging a 27-point margin of victory and a 27-point margin of loss.

Texas will be one of those 27-point losses.

Along with Texas' superior defensive line against Texas A&M's problematic offensive line, the Aggies are 110th in the nation against the pass.  Texas, of course, is rolling into the game with its passing game fully in rhythm.  Jordan Shipley will get another 100 yards, Malcolm Williams will get another big play, James Kirkendoll will get another touchdown and Texas rolls. Texas 44, Texas A&M 17.

Jeff Howe, Inside Texas Recruiting Analyst – If I’m Colt McCoy, I can’t wait for Thursday.

Texas’ senior quarterback and Heisman candidate has taken a tremendous amount of guff from Texas A&M fans who found humor in McCoy’s neck injury against the Aggies as a freshman and took to calling him Cart McCry, or whatever name they could think of to demoralize McCoy’s spirit.

As if McCoy did not do enough to silence his critics in College Station after engineering last season’s 49-9 beat down in Austin, the jokes are continuing to fly this week with Texas A&M fans continuing to take shots at McCoy, some of them as dirty as the one Kellen Heard administered in 2006.

With McCoy on the verge of leading Texas to an undefeated regular season and a berth in the BCS title game along with a legit shot to win the school’s third Heisman, it would be sweet on many levels for McCoy to have a standout game on national television in a stadium where a fan base has taken cheap shots at him to challenge his manhood.

The bottom line in this game is that the best and worst thing for the Aggies is youth. If Texas starts slow then Texas A&M could make this a competitive game much longer than it probably should be on paper. But if Texas can get out to a big lead early, the Aggies could very well fold and an ugly repeat of their 55-point loss to Oklahoma last week could be on display at Kyle Field.

I expect a lighter version of the latter. I look for McCoy, for the sake of his Heisman chances and for the sophomoric taunting to finally cease, to have a big game and take the Longhorns one step closer to a date with destiny in Pasadena. Texas 41, Texas A&M 10.

Michael Pearle, Co-Publisher – Some on the boards this week, as well as our own Pat Culpepper, have expressed their concern about facing the Aggies. I’m also concerned.

I remember well the last time I covered a game at Kyle Field. It was 1999, 10 years ago this season, the year of the bonfire tragedy. Right before kickoff we learned that Major Applewhite had come down with a stomach bug and would not play. This was also the year of Ramada-gate, when the team’s area hotel somehow forgot to serve the Longhorns breakfast. Sitting in the press box that day, suddenly I realized that the pressbox was swaying. As the Aggie fans locked elbows and began their side-to-side movement, it literally caused the stadium to move. If I wasn’t sick from the sight of so much maroon already, I certainly began to feel ill as I sensed the whole structure might well come down on top of us, much like the bonfire had days before.

Then, about 10 minutes or so before the game’s end, the press corps filed down to the sidelines to await the final whistle, from there to head over to conduct interviews. The Horns had brought on Applewhite to try and mount a final game-winning drive, and the crowd noise was deafening, ear-splitting. I have never heard anything in my life so loud, and that includes front row for Aerosmith in 1978 at the Tarrant County Convention Center! The intense buzzing in my ears actually hurt. I didn’t see how the Horns could function in that hornet’s nest, and sure enough they didn’t. The Aggies took it 20-16 in one of the bitterest games I can remember.

All of that is by way of saying that when the Horns go to Kyle Field, they have to expect a tough street fight against a team with a true home field advantage. This season, the Horns are so close to Pasadena they can sniff the Roses, but the Aggies and their faithful would practically reach nirvana if they could ruin Texas’ plans. So I expect a hard, physical battle with A&M hanging with Texas well into the third quarter. But the Horns are much better than the Aggies, and the motivation to be national champions will finally drive them past this mediocre A&M squad. In a scary one, the Horns stay on track. Texas 38, Texas A&M 20.

Clendon Ross, Co-Publisher – I’ve tried, I’ve really tried, to not be nervous about this game. I’ve read all the “we’re gonna stomp the Aggies” commentary, I’ve looked at the stats on both sides, I’ve had a therapy session with Dr. Lucksinger on the Inside Texas Podcast… in short, I’ve done everything I can to quell my fear of an A&M upset. But the feeling lingers. As I said on the Podcast, it’s probably an irrational fear, but it didn’t help when I saw Pat Culpepper – who knows first-hand about playing the Ags in College Station – predict a one-score, come-from-behind win for the Horns.

I feel eerily similar to the days leading up to the OU game. There were lots of blowout predictions heading into Dallas vs. a twice-vanquished and wounded Sooner squad, but I had a bad feeling that us Orangebloods would be sweating that one till the final gun, and we did. A&M’s not as good as Oklahoma (65-10 in Norman a couple of weeks ago speaks loudly to that), but the Aggies’ Jeckyl and Hyde nature scares me (52-30 over Tech in Lubbock speaks to that).

It just won’t surprise me if A&M plays its best game of the season Thursday night. If Texas also plays well, the Aggies’ best still won’t be good enough. But if Colt McCoy, with a Heisman possibly on the line, presses, as another great Texas quarterback did four years ago when the Horns traveled to College Station under similar circumstances, and if the defense has its typical early struggles and fails to correct them quickly, then this thing could get really interesting. And by that, I mean nightmare-ish.

I think Texas will win, but I expect I’m going to be extremely nervous till late on Thanksgiving night when that Kyle Field clock finally ticks to zero with the Horns on top. Texas 38, Texas A&M 23.

Pat Culpepper, Special to Inside Texas: Texas 35, Texas A&M 28.

Average of IT Members Picks: Texas 42, Texas A&M 17.

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