LSU Column

The Aggie defense reaches in an attempt to block an LSU kick during the 2018 Thanksgiving game in Kyle Field.

It has been eight years since Texas A&M and the University of Texas last met on the gridiron.

Though talk of reinstating the rivalry continues, nothing has come of it. But a candidate for a new rival now awaits a Saturday matchup with the Aggies.

Hypothetically, if A&M was going to select a rival to replace the Longhorns, LSU might make the most sense.

Sure, there’s the Aggies’ 2012 upset of then-No. 1 Alabama that has created and maintained tensions between the teams since, but the Crimson Tide already has a heated rivalry with in-state SEC opponent Auburn.

Arkansas is also in contention to replace the Longhorns on A&M’s rivalry list, and those games are already treated as a rivalry match, being hosted at a neutral site. But annual trips to AT&T Stadium aren’t enough to make a rivalry, even though the matchups have been closely contested in recent years.

The case for LSU is far more compelling.

The appeal of the Texas rivalry is due in part to the proximity of the Longhorns. Austin is just under a two-hour drive from College Station; Baton Rouge, on the other hand, is a five-hour trek. But it is still much closer than Tuscaloosa and Fayetteville.

The Aggies and Longhorns also have a deep history, with the first game between the two ending in a 38-0 Texas win in 1894. The 117 games that followed have been special to players and fans alike, including the first game after the collapse of Bonfire in 1999, which A&M won 20-16 in Aggieland.

But A&M’s history with LSU is almost as rich. The two met for the first time in 1899, with the Aggies taking a 52-0 win in College Station. The A&M-LSU matchup didn’t happen again until 1906 when A&M joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association. Since then, 55 games have followed, with only 13 of those being conference matchups.

While the A&M-LSU rivalry may not be as drenched in tradition as A&M-Texas is, the 2018 showdown between the Aggies and the Tigers holds a place in history. The seven-overtime thriller, which ended in a 74-72 A&M victory, is the highest-scoring game in Football Bowl Subdivision history and is tied for the longest in NCAA history.

Prior to that win, LSU had bested A&M in every season since the Aggies made a move to the SEC in 2012. In that first season out of the Big 12, A&M fell to No. 6 LSU 24-19 in a loss that kept A&M out of the SEC Championship game.

Also in that year, then-quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, despite having his worst performance of the season against the Tigers. Manziel went 29-of-56 for 276 passing yards in that game, with no touchdowns and three interceptions.

Though not as powerful a rivalry as A&M-Texas, Saturday’s matchup is already being treated like a rivalry game, with head coaches of both teams making bold statements in their post-game press conferences last Saturday.

“We’re coming,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said.

“It’s going to be on,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “I’ll never forget that game last year. We’re gonna be ready.”

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