No. 7 Cowboys look for 4 in row vs No. 8 Texas A&M

When No. 7 Oklahoma State meets eighth-ranked Texas A&M on

Saturday, it will be the first Top 10 matchup at Kyle Field since

1975.

Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman couldn’t believe it had been

that long.

”That’s news to me,” he said. ”That seems like it’s a little

long of a wait obviously.”

After such an extended drought, the high stakes game featuring a

pair of powerful offenses, who are combining for almost 1,100 yards

a game is sure to be shootout. Right?

Not so fast, says Sherman.

”Whenever you say that, you always put a whammy on the game,”

he said. ”It’ll be a defensive struggle, you watch. The defense

will take over whenever you say that. I would say both defenses

will rise to the occasion.”

One thing the Aggies know they can count on is a sellout crowd.

Texas A&M had more than 86,000 fans at each of its first two

games and expects an even larger – and louder – crowd this

time.

The Aggies are hoping to surpass the record crowd of 90,079 that

packed the stadium for last year’s 9-6 win over Nebraska.

”I think back to last year’s Nebraska game. That’s my absolute

anticipation for what’s going to happen this week,” Aggies

defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. ”Just the feel of our

first two games, when we’re playing two non-conference opponents

that in years past people thought ho-hum, and we had unbelievable

crowds. This being our first league game, I fully anticipate it’s

going to be one of those. I get goose bumps just thinking about

it.”

Oklahoma State’s coaching staff is working to get the team ready

for the noise, but Cowboys’ receiver Tracy Moore says ”there’s not

a whole lot we can do to prepare for an environment like

this.”

Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Bill Young agreed.

”That’s a heck of a place to play, there’s no doubt about it,”

he said. ”They march the Corps in there and their crowd gets

behind the team. It’s a tough place and we have to get ready for

some noise.”

The Cowboys have won three in a row against Texas A&M and

six straight overall on the road, but have never won consecutive

games in College Station. Both teams were undefeated last year when

they opened Big 12 play against one another.

The Cowboys got a 38-35 win last season largely because of five

turnovers by A&M quarterback Jerrod Johnson, including an

interception in the last seconds that led to the winning field

goal.

That was the start of a three-game losing streak which spurred

Sherman into benching the mistake-prone Johnson, a senior, in favor

of Ryan Tannehill.

After Johnson’s performance against them last year, the Cowboys

see the obvious difference with Tannehill in charge.

”They cut down on their turnovers. They had a ton of turnovers

with their previous quarterback,” Young said. ”Not all of them

were his fault; some of it was bad luck. But Tannehill is an

excellent quarterback, he throws the ball well, moves around the

pocket and they’ve got a great group of receivers and running backs

to help him out.”

DeRuyter joked that preparing for Oklahoma State’s offense is

”not fun at all.” He said the process is made easier by his

defense practicing against Texas A&M’s first team offense in

practice.

”They go up tempo, very similar to what Oklahoma State does,”

DeRuyter said of the Aggies. ”We’ve got some weapons to go against

to kind of compare to what they have. Getting the chance to compete

against our guys, if we can have success against our guys we have

the confidence we can effectively compete against a team like

them.”

Of course the opposite is also true, and Oklahoma State

cornerback Devin Hedgepeth said competing against star receiver

Justin Blackmon in practice each day will have him ready to deal

with Texas A&M’s Jeff Fuller.

”It’s great preparation,” Hedgepeth said. ”Justin has the

size and speed, so basically any receiver we need to prepare for,

Justin is a great preparation.”

The Cowboys are happy to have an afternoon kickoff against the

Aggies after their scheduled night game last week against Tulsa

didn’t start until 12:16 a.m. and ended at 3:35 a.m. because of

thunderstorms.

They’ve rested up since that 59-33 win and are looking forward

to what could be the last conference meeting with Texas A&M.

The Aggies are likely to be in the Southeastern Conference next

season.

”Kyle Field is obviously a fun place to play and it’s just

exciting to start Big 12 play,” quarterback Brandon Weeden said.

”Also the fact that A&M might not be in our conference anymore

adds another element to the whole deal.”