Bears, Aggies meet in what could be end of rivalry
Baylor hasn't beaten Texas A&M at Kyle Field since 1984 and its last chance to snap the skid may have arrived.
The Aggies are leaving for the Southeastern Conference in July and there is no guarantee the old rivals will meet again any time soon. Texas A&M's rivalry with Texas has more buzz, but the one against Baylor also spans more than a century. The teams first met in 1899 and Saturday's game will be the 108th between the pair.
No. 20 Baylor (4-1, 1-1 Big 12) is coming off a 49-26 win over Iowa State. And No. 21 Texas A&M (3-2, 1-1) knocked off Texas Tech 45-40 last week.
Beyond the history, some in the Texas A&M community were annoyed that the school's move to the SEC brought a threat of legal action. Many thought it came from Baylor, adding some additional heat to Saturday's matchup.
''I know this is a game they look forward to,'' Texas A&M defensive back Terrence Frederick said. ''It's big. You want to win every game (but) it's good to play them one more time and make sure we win this one, because it's probably the last time we're going to play them.''
The players shied away from talking about how worked up the fans will be for this one, but players from both sides acknowledged that issues beyond the football field could add a bite to the game this year.
''You're going to have big games that mean a lot on the field, but mean a whole lot off the field as well,'' Baylor linebacker Elliot Coffey said.
The Aggies have won two in a row over Baylor after scoring 28 straight points to rally for a 42-30 win last season.
Baylor coach Art Briles wants his team to remember what happened last year.
''They're going keep fighting, keep fighting, keep playing well and keep making plays,'' Briles said of the Aggies. ''Every play, every drive and every possession on both sides of the ball is critical in the football game.''
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III has faced A&M twice in his career, but he's never played the Aggies in College Station because of a knee injury that caused him to miss most of the 2009 season.
He hopes that dealing with the crowd in a 36-35 loss to Kansas State two weeks ago will help the Bears handle the noise at Kyle Field.
''I think any time you have an away game where the crowd's pretty into it, it prepares you,'' he said. ''A&M's obviously a unique place, a lot of tradition there with their crowd. And that's great, but we'll be prepared.''
The No. 1 concern for the Aggies and their nation's-worst pass defense will be making sure they account for Griffin. Texas A&M is yielding almost 348 yards passing per game and Griffin is fifth in the country in averaging 360 yards of total offense.
Griffin has thrown 19 touchdowns this season with just one interception.
Of course, he isn't the only player the Aggies are worried about with receiver Kendall Wright and running back Terrance Ganaway also having great seasons.
''They have excellent weapons around him,'' Texas A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter said. ''Kendall Wright is an extremely explosive player, and explosive after the catch. He's fast and has great hands. They have a big back (Ganaway) who can pound the ball, and (Griffin) can run and he's real accurate with his throws.''
The Aggies also have a high-powered offense with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running backs Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael. Gray and Michael have been a dangerous combination, combining for 939 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.
Tannehill isn't known for his speed like Griffin, but Briles knows he's also a threat as a runner with 176 yards and three TDs this season.
Briles isn't surprised by the success of Gray and Michael after keeping up with their careers since they played high school football in the state.
''It wasn't just like they got good this year,'' he said. ''They've been threats every time they've stepped on the football field. Extremely fast, good moves, good vision, and good balance. That's why they're a potent running attack. Those guys are almost mirror images of each other. When you add Tannehill to the mix, then it really makes you play assignment football on defense.''