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|A&M brings great tradition|
Of all the shaking and baking going on this off-season, the most intriguing change for 2012-13 for me will be the addition of Texas A&M into the Southeastern Conference.
One of the first LSU football games I ever attended was in 1970.
Texas A&M came into Tiger Stadium as a heavy underdog to the No. 12 Tigers.
So as I sat down taking in all the pageantry, I was not to concerned with the outcome.
I had read my Louisiana Gridweek the week before and there seemed to be no reason why this game would still be in doubt by halftime.
My dad was trying to figure out what part of the fourth quarter we could leave to beat the traffic.
But something strange happened on the way to an easy win. This Gene Stallings-led Aggie team upset the Tigers 20-18 as a shocked Tiger Stadium crowd stood in disbelief when the dust cleared.
Hugh McElroy would become the first African-American at A&M to score a touchdown. If only he could have waited a week. The receiving score came with 13 seconds remaining, leading the Aggies to the upset. McElroy, a 5-8 receiver, said after the game he wasn't even anticipating the short pass from quarterback Lex James.
McElroy's score propelled A&M to its first victory over LSU since 1956, when Bear Bryant coached the Aggies.
Personally, I could have done without all the firsts.
The Aggies, who started off the season with a 41-14 win over Wichita State, would not win another game the rest of the season, even losing to lowly Rice.
While the loss certainly took a lot out of the trip, being a part of the Aggie tradition made up for it.
The Aggie cadets standing the entire game, the Yell Leaders and that unbelievable Texas A&M band with its crisp, well-organized formations, criss-crossing each other in perfect unison was a sight to behold.
The Aggies have matched up against LSU more than any other non-conference opponent (though they were both members of the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association from 19031908 and 19121914). The Aggies first played the Tigers in College Station in 1899, winning the game 520. The Tigers are the Aggies' seventh-oldest collegiate-football rivalry.
The Aggies are 711 in College Station, 10221 in Baton Rouge, and 341 at neutral sites (including the losses in the 1944 Orange Bowl in Miami and the 2011 Cotton Bowl in Dallas). Through 1923, the Aggies built a 732 advantage (which included neutral site games in New Orleans in 1908, Houston in 1913, Dallas in 1914, Galveston in 1916, and San Antonio in 1917).
The Aggies and Tigers next played every year from 1942 to 1949 during the regular season with all of the games held in Baton Rouge. The Aggies were 26 in those match-ups. In addition to the regular season match-up in 1943, the Aggies and Tigers also faced each other in the first bowl match-up of their rivalry. Though the Aggies won the regular season game by a score of 2813, the Tigers won the January 1, 1944, Orange Bowl by a final score of 1914.
The Aggies and Tigers met twice more in 1955 and 1956 with the Aggies taking both match-ups (the 1955 game was held at a neutral site in Dallas, and the 1956 game was held in Baton Rouge). From 1960 to 1975, the Aggies and Tigers produced the most consecutive match-ups of the series, playing every year, with all of the games played in Baton Rouge.
The Aggies were 3121 over this span. After a nine-year absence, the rivalry renewed in 1986 and continued until their last regular season meeting in 1995, this time with the games alternating between Baton Rouge and College Station.
Vidalia's Keith Woodside was part of that tradition as an A&M running back.
The Aggies were 64 over this span, winning the last five meetings, and winning six of the last seven meetings. The most recent regular season contest was won by the Aggies on September 2, 1995, by the score of 3317.
Finally, after a 15-year absence, the Aggies and Tigers faced each other once more on January 7, 2011, in the Cotton Bowl Classic. It was only the second time the two have faced each other in a bowl game. The Aggies lost 2441.
The Tigers have shut out the Aggies nine times (including the Tigers' non-university recognized National Championship season of 1908, when they beat the Aggies 260, and the Tigers' non-university recognized National Championship season of 1962, when they beat the Aggies 210). Add to those totals the game in which the Aggies and Tigers shut each other out, with a final score of 00 in 1920. The Tigers hold the series' longest winning streak of six games from 1960 to 1965, which were all played in Baton Rouge. That winning streak was part of a 10-game unbeaten streak for the Tigers from 1960 to 1969 which included a 77 tie in 1966 (with all of the games played in Baton Rouge).
So it's great to see the series renewed. This A&M squad will be led by Biletnikoff Award candidate Ryan Swope, who set school records with 89 catches for 1,207 yards in 2011.
Kevin Sumlin, who coached at the University of Houston the past four years, will bring a high-octane, fast-tempo offensive scheme to the conference. Former Red Raider star quarterback Kliff Kingsbury is serving as the offensive coordinator.
Sumlin takes over a team that finished with a 7-6 record of last year. But they had Oklahoma State in trouble and were up on Arkansas going into the fourth. They had an overtime loss to Missouri and they couldn't come up with a stop in the four-overtime loss to Kansas State.
Add the Case McCoy TD run and a Texas win, and A&M lost five games by a touchdown or less. The Oklahoma game was the only blowout, but there but for the grace of roughly six plays went an 11-1 season.
Unfortunately, LSU fans will have a wait a year to enjoy the A&M pageantry. LSU plays at Texas A&M on October 20.
LSU tentatively has TCU coming to Baton Rouge on Sept. 7, 2013 and Alabama-Birmingham visiting on September 14, so the two teams will more than likely meet in October of next year in Baton Rouge.
Take it from a 13-year-old kid. It will be worth the wait.
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