No. 22 A&M and No. 25 LSU look to cap season on good note
HOUSTON (AP) When No. 25 LSU and No. 22 Texas A&M meet in the only college football game on Thanksgiving day, both teams will be looking to cap the regular-season on a positive note after disappointing and inconsistent years.
With eight wins, a victory by the Aggies could help them nab a prestigious New Year's Day bowl game.
''Our guys are aware of it,'' coach Kevin Sumlin said. ''Without a doubt we still have opportunity to win double-digit games. Very few teams have that. That's what most important. In order to do that can't look past Thursday's and say that. Focus still remains on Thursday and trying to be 1-0 this week.''
A win by the Tigers (6-4) could help interim coach Ed Orgeron keep the job full time. LSU's players have been clear about their support for Orgeron, who took over when Les Miles was fired in September.
''This Thursday, obviously there will be a lot of different motivations and I don't think it'll be hard to be motivated for this game because you want to get the bitter taste of a loss out of your mouth,'' fullback J.D. Moore said. ''You want to play for coach O who's willing to take the whole blame of an entire team on his shoulders even when it may not be entirely his fault. So it's easy to play for a guy like that.''
Texas A&M will look for another big game from defensive end Myles Garrett , who had a career-high 4 1/2 sacks last week against UTSA. It was the first game Garrett has been healthy after struggling with an ankle injury for several weeks.
LSU quarterback Danny Etling knows he'll have to watch out for Garrett, who is predicted to be one of the top picks in the draft if he declares.
''He's one of those players who is a special talent,'' Etling said. ''They have a good defense as a whole but he's obviously what stands out on film and has made a lot of plays. They use him to kind of disrupt some plays in the passing game and he's a good pass rusher.''
''But in the running game I think he's shown that he can play on all those different downs … he's kind of an all-down defensive lineman who can make a lot of plays for them all over the field,'' he said.
Some things to know about the LSU-Texas A&M game:
LSU star running back Leonard Fournette has an ankle injury that may keep him out of Thursday's game. Fournette has been slowed by the injury for much of the season and Orgeron said earlier this week that he was day to day and that he was very sore. Orgeron said it has been tough not being able to have him at full strength for the majority of the season.
''It was something we had to deal with,'' Orgeron said. ''We won three games without him being there. He came in and had a great game against Ole Miss. We'd love for him to be healthy.''
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Texas A&M RB Trayveon Williams needs 44 yards rushing to become the first true freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards. Williams had 80 yards rushing last week and has had three games over 100 yards rushing, including a season-high 217 yards rushing in a win over Tennessee.
IN THE MIDDLE
LSU's defense took a considerable hit when senior starting middle linebacker Kendell Beckwith went out with an apparent left knee injury against Florida. The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Beckwith, a clear-cut NFL prospect., has been LSU's leading tackler with 91 tackles, including six tackles for losses, a sack and fumble recovery. He was also the leader of the front seven, if not the whole defense. While Orgeron downplayed the long-term seriousness of Beckwith's injury, he ruled him out against A&M. Donnie Alexander, a junior from New Orleans and former Edna Karr high school teammate of Aggies receiver Speedy Noil, is slated to make his first start for Beckwith.
FOCUSED ON FINISHING
Although LSU only scored 10 points last weekend against Florida, it wasn't because they couldn't move the ball. The Tigers racked up 423 yards, outgaining the Gators by 153 yards. Etling was 14 of 26 for 204 yards without an interception. If not for their failure to get more than a field goal out of their last four times inside the Florida 10-yard line because of a fumble, botched field goal and gal line stand, the Tigers might have won last weekend.
''We put up a lot of yards, we executed our game plan and unfortunately we shot ourselves in the foot when we needed some big plays and especially inside the red zone,'' Etling said.
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.