Panhandle Battle; Texas A&M Takes on #11 Texas Longhorns
They'll try to continue their domination of the Aggies (8-3, 4-3) and clinch a spot in the Big 12 championship game when the conference rivals meet Friday at Royal-Memorial Stadium.
Oddsmakers have made #11 Texas -13.5 point spread favorites (College Football Odds) for today's game,
the over/under has been set at 57 total points (View CFB Sports Books).
Texas (9-2, 6-1) is tied with No. 13 Oklahoma for the top spot in the South Division, but the Longhorns beat the Sooners 28-10 on Oct. 7 to earn the tiebreaker. The Longhorns advance to the Dec. 2 championship game in Kansas City against No. 23 Nebraska with a victory or a loss by Oklahoma to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Although the implications of this game are obvious, Texas is excited about the prospects of handing its biggest state rival another defeat. The Longhorns haven't lost to the Aggies since 1999 and have won by an average of 20.8 points during their run.
``Well, A&M and Texas - that's the game that you always watched after Thanksgiving,'' Texas quarterback Colt McCoy said. ``I know that as a kid, I watched every single one of them. I came to a few of them; I was at the game when Ricky (Williams) broke the record here. It's really emotional, and I have a lot of family that are A&M fans.''
McCoy will be the starter for Texas after he was knocked out of the Longhorns' 45-42 loss at Kansas State on Nov. 11 after he suffered a pinched nerve in the first quarter. The loss ended Texas' hopes of defending its BCS championship, but McCoy has returned to practice after sitting out last week.
``It was really frustrating to be on the sideline,'' McCoy said. ``I had a good doctor's appointment. I'm excited to be back at practice this week. I worked really hard this week in the training room to get myself back and ready and get my strength back.''
The first-year starter has turned in a tremendous season as he gets set to face Texas A&M for the first time. He has thrown for 2,102 yards and a school-record 27 touchdown passes this year.
Senior offensive lineman Justin Blalock will be there to protect McCoy. Blalock, who has started 49 consecutive games at guard and tackle, injured his left knee in the loss to Kansas State, but has returned to practice.
He's one of three Longhorns senior offensive linemen playing their final home games, along with Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein.
``The offensive line will be one of our biggest concerns for next year, because you can't replace those three,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said. ``You'll have younger guys with a lot less experience. I think by starting this upcoming game, Justin may have the longest tenure of any starter in the country and especially at Texas. They've all been really durable.''
Texas' top-ranked rush defense should be tested. The Longhorns are yielding just 42 yards per game on the ground, while the Aggies are averaging 207.5 rushing yards - eighth-best mark in the nation.
Last season, the Aggies ran the ball well in a 40-29 loss to the eventual national champions, with quarterback Stephen McGee gaining 108 yards and fullback Jorvorskie Lane rushing for 104 yards to spearhead the option attack.
``You have to be disciplined in that kind of offense because the second you don't, they have a touchdown on you,'' Longhorns defensive tackle Frank Okam said. ``It's going to be difficult because they give so many different looks and they have so many different personnel and things you have to prepare for.''
Texas A&M, 3-0 on the road this year, is coming off consecutive one-point losses to Oklahoma and Nebraska. Aggies coach Dennis Franchione is 0-9 against Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska since coming to College Station.
He realizes there is no better time to break through than now.
``Well, I think these games have a life of their own and an identity of their own,'' Franchione said. ``I know that they touch your fan base very deeply. They should touch your players very deeply. I know our former players are touched very deeply by this game and I think as a player and a coach you have a sense that this game means more than just about any game.''
by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us
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