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Different strokes

A&M and Missouri enter SEC with opposite results

Published: Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 01:11

Two seasons.

 For only two short seasons, A&M will be obligated to endure a forced Thanksgiving weekend rivalry with Missouri — the same Missouri that skipped into the green pastures of the SEC on the Aggies’ realignment coattails.

 Despite the fact both programs will miss their age-old rivalries with steadfast Big 12 foes Texas and Kansas during the Saturday matchup, neither can ignore the momentousness of the game.

 Texas A&M has earned itself an opportunity to fight for a possible BCS bowl berth behind its 9-2 season and top-ten ranking, a feat that would become unattainable with a loss to the Tigers.

Meanwhile, the Aggies’ star quarterback, Johnny Manziel, will be hoping to secure a wide-open Heisman race in one final gridiron campaign. With last week’s poor performances by Kansas State’s Collin Klein and Oregon’s Kenjon Barner fresh in voters’ minds, Johnny Football stands one strong win away from likely securing the prestigious award.

 Missouri, on the other hand, requires the victory for bowl eligibility and a .500 inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference. After falling at home in last weekend’s nail-biter to Syracuse 31-27, the Tigers are in jeopardy of ending their seven-year postseason streak.

 Additionally, the matchup holds multiple “respect” aspects as well.

 Due to Big 12 scheduling flaws last year, Missouri was forced to revisit A&M at Kyle Field after dominating the Aggies the season prior. A&M, however, was unable to benefit from the 12th Man advantage and fell in overtime in one of the many disappointing, second-half falters.

 With the move to the SEC and the scheduling issues therein, Missouri was mandated to, once again, face off in College Station. For the Aggies, a third consecutive home loss to the Tigers is beyond comprehension, particularly for upperclassmen who have already endured the two prior disheartening games.

 Furthermore, the preseason expectations surrounding both Texas A&M and Missouri have gone completely backwards.

The Tigers, behind a strong coach in Gary Pinkel and proven quarterback in James Franklin, were favored to not only survive in the league, but to compete and create problems for the eastern powerhouses.

A&M, though, was predicted to finish fifth in the western division with pundits citing first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin and the unknown quarterback situation as evidence of the Aggies’ future misfortune.

Now, almost a full season later, the roles have reversed. Consequently, A&M will be fighting to prove their worth while Missouri hopes to earn back lost pride.

Entering into the league, both coaches risked an offensive style that has yet to garner significantly consistent results in the region — the West Coast approved spread.

Behind the talents of Manziel, however, the Aggies found rare success and remain the envy of Missouri and countless other programs. And it easily could have gone the other way had Franklin evolved as Johnny Football has this season.

Perhaps both A&M and the Tigers have underplayed this makeshift, end-of-the-year matchup.

Perhaps there’s more to this “rivalry” than meets the eye.

Therefore, before each fan base begins groaning over the loss of two of the most historic and passionate rivalries — the Lone Star Showdown and the Border War — consider what lies ahead for the next two seasons.

Two programs fighting for rebirth in a new conference. Two universities establishing scholarly strongholds for a weakened academic league. Two teams hoping to build success from the ashes of their former homes.

All in just two seasons.

 

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