Aggies eager to add misery to Texas' bad season
The Texas A&M Aggies have been waiting a long time for a season like this.
Not just for their own rousing success, but also watching nemesis Texas scratch and struggle just for the chance to play in a bowl game.
Beat Texas on Thanksgiving night and the No. 17 Aggies (8-3, 5-2 Big 12) can send the Longhorns to their first losing season since 1997.
''Now it's our turn,'' Aggies running back Cyrus Gray said. ''I am surprised because that is a team that always wins 10 games or more each year. Maybe this is not their year. Maybe in the future they'll do better. But I think it's our time and we have to capture that moment.''
Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman is a bit more diplomatic.
Sherman prefers to note that the Aggies, winners of five in a row, still have an outside shot at winning a share of the Big 12 South division title and get just their second nine-win season in more than a decade.
''Our effort is not to keep Texas out of a bowl game,'' Sherman said. ''We are trying to do something for ourselves.''
Texas (5-6, 2-5) is already guaranteed a last-place finish in the division. The chance to pile some more misery on the Longhorns would be sweet for an Aggies program that has struggled to keep up with Texas over the last decade.
The Aggies have been one of the league's hottest teams over the last month. After a 3-3 start, Sherman benched starting quarterback Jerrod Johnson and his turnover troubles for Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill, who had been one of Texas A&M's best receivers while also doubling as the backup quarterback, brought new life to a team that ripped off wins over Kansas, Texas Tech, No. 14 Oklahoma, Baylor and No. 16 Nebraska.
Tannehill hasn't been the only factor. The defense that was so horrible last season has dramatically improved under first-year coordinator Tim DeRuyter, stifling the Huskers 9-6 last week. Gray, who took over starting tailback duties after Christine Michael broke his leg, has five consecutive 100-yard games.
While everything has been going right for the Aggies, just about everything has gone wrong for Texas.
The Longhorns are just 2-4 at home and lost four in a row at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium for the first time since 1956. Quarterback Garrett Gilbert has struggled with turnovers and the defense has been ripped for big plays and rushing yards all season.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis has been the target of withering criticism from Texas fans because the Longhorns offense is averaging 24.4 points, which includes last week's 51-point outburst against Florida Atlantic last week.
In four consecutive losses, Texas didn't score a first-half touchdown.
Davis, who has been with head coach Mack Brown for 13 seasons at Texas, has said he doesn't feel like he's coaching for his job. When asked this week about rumors he might resign after the season, Davis said no.
Brown said he'd just like the season to start over so he could try again.
Back in August and early September, Texas was ranked No. 5 and expected to compete again for the national championship. Now they're just trying to avoid a no-bowl embarrassment.
''It's a one-game season,'' junior safety Blake Gideon said. ''We've put ourselves in this position, some good, some bad.''
Texas found a little life in last week's win against Florida Atlantic. Brown said he hopes it will give his team some confidence heading into what could be the final game of the season.
The Aggies have had little success in Austin.
Texas is 46-11-1 against the Aggies at home and Brown is 9-3, with two of those losses coming in the last four years.
Texas has lost its last home game under Brown only once. That was in 2006, when a bunch of seniors who had won the national championship the year before walked off the field as 12-7 losers to Texas A&M.
The current group of 20 seniors don't want to spoil a legacy that includes a 25-2 run in 2008-09 and winning the Big 12 championship last season. They also could leave with a 3-1 record against the Aggies.
''All the seniors want to go out as winners,'' senior wide receiver James Kirkendoll said. ''Any time you beat A&M, a lot is forgotten.''