Rival (n): 1. a person or thing that is in a position to dispute another's preeminence or superiority; a stadium without a rival; 2. a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor.
Texas A&M claims that Texas Tech is, in no way, shape, or form, their rival.
However, a look at past matchups between the two teams seems to prove that A&M’s stance on the issue is completely false.
Coming into this year’s game in Lubbock, the Aggies hold a slight series advantage (34-30-1). Recently, though, Texas Tech has played well, winning nine of their last 12 games.
Texas A&M has not won a game in Lubbock since 1993.
Both teams are coming off conference wins: Texas A&M defeated Oklahoma State to remain perfect in Big 12 games, and Texas Tech beat Iowa State to improve to 1-1 in conference play.
These two teams are about as opposite of one another as they could get.
A&M’s strength is running the ball, while Texas Tech’s weak link on defense is stopping a good rushing attack. Texas Tech moves the ball with passing, and A&M’s weakness on defense is pass coverage.
Dennis Franchione’s A&M team is not much different than last year—the offense predominantly uses the running game to wear down opposing defenses, and the pass to keep defenses honest.
Junior QB Stephen McGee leads the A&M offense. He has completed 80 of 145 passes this season for a 55.2 completion percentage, 906 yards, five TDs, and three INTs.
But McGee may be even more dangerous when rushing the ball.
The Aggies appear pretty confident leading up to the big game. Jorvorskie Lane and DB Danny Gorrer have indicated as much in statements to the media.
“We’re going to win in 2007,” said Lane. “That’s a guarantee. I promise you. It’s just that our team’s chemistry is so strong right now, ain’t nothing can break us. From what we went through with that situation with Coach Fran and we were down 17 points last week [against Oklahoma State], it’s just a real big motivating thing right now.”
"To handle a guy like Crabtree, you've got to play to his level," Gorrer said. "You just have to get your hands on a guy like that and don't let him run wild. When you're playing him, you've got to come with it. But he's got to bring his A-game when he faces Danny Gorrer. I'm looking forward to playing him. May the best man win."
A rivalry that didn’t need anything else to fuel it just got a couple powder kegs courtesy Texas A&M’s players.
A&M Rushing Stats
In the Aggies’ running game, three players have at least 70 carries on the season. Leading the team is 268 pound junior RB Jorvorskie Lane with 89 carries for 397 yards. That’s 4.5 yards per carry with 10 TDs.
The speedy Michael Goodson is next with 75 carries for 363 yards and 4.8 yards per carry with two TDs so far.
QB Stephen McGee has rushed 71 times for 455 yards, which adds up to 6.4 yards per carry. McGee has rushed for four TDs as well.
Seven other players have run the ball this year for A&M. That group is headed by Keondra Smith who has 19 touches for 64 yards, which is 3.4 yards per carry, with one score.
A&M Receiving Stats
A&M’s receiving stats are much more pedestrian, with 14 players having caught passes this season.
TE Martellus Bennett is McGee’s favorite target. The junior has 20 catches for 241 yards. That’s 12.1 yards per catch, with one score.
Kerry Franks, whose little brother Jacoby is a freshman at Texas Tech, is A&M’s deep threat. The senior has 17 catches for 325 yards and one score.
Fans of either school probably remember that Franks had a 99-yard kickoff return for a TD in last year’s game.
RB Mike Goodson is also a go-to receiver. He has 12 catches for 154 yards and two scores.
Jorvorskie Lane and Terrance McCoy are the only other Aggies that have receiving TDs.
While A&M has done some talking, mum is the word in Lubbock.
Mike Leach doesn’t like to talk about injuries—not even his own, apparently. Tech’s head coach hurt his arm while riding his bicycle but refused to talk about it.
“Here at Texas Tech, we don’t discuss injuries,” Leach said.
Texas Tech approaches the game of football much differently than Texas A&M. Leach’s Red Raiders pass the football, a lot. As proof of this, Texas Tech has two of the nation’s top three wide receivers in terms of total yardage.
Junior Graham Harrell leads the offense. He has completed 228 of 310 pass attempts, a respectable 73.5 completion percentage, with 2,726 yards, 28 TDs, and three INTs.
Texas Tech Rushing Stats
Junior Shannon Woods paces the Raiders’ rushing attack with 53 carries for 316 yards (6 YPC) and seven TDs.
Kobey Lewis has 28 rushes for 94 yards, a total of 3.4 yards per carry, and two TDs.
True freshman Aaron Crawford is next with 19 totes for 58 yards, an average of 3.1 yards per carry, but no TDs.
WR Ed Britton has carried the ball six times for 39 yards and QB Harrell has accounted for two TDs on the ground with goal-line carries.
Texas Tech Receiving Stats
Michael Crabtree continues to be Texas Tech’s lethal weapon. The redshirt freshman receiver has 70 catches for 1,074 yards, which works out to 15.3 yards per catch, and 17 TDs.
He leads the nation in all three categories and is tied for the Big 12 record in receiving TDs with OSU alum Rashaun Woods.
Danny Amendola is enjoying great success at the Y position. The senior has 54 catches for 685 yards, a total of 12.7 yards per catch, with four TDs.
Running back Shannon Woods has tallied 25 catches for 79 yards and two scores.
Eric Morris also has 25 catches on the season. With those 25 touches he has managed 308 yards, which is 12.3 yards per catch, and also scored three times.
Grant Walker along with Detron Lewis (two) and Lyle Leong (one) round out the receiving touchdowns for Texas Tech.
When these two teams face each other, fans can feel the excitement in the air. Nothing is predictable and no lead is safe.
In short, this rivalry is what’s great about college football.
Dennis Franchione arrived at Texas A&M with huge expectations. The former Alabama and TCU coach was brought in to revitalize a program that was pulling in talent but underachieving.
His results are less than stellar.
At 25-23, his coaching record with the Aggies isn't quite what boosters were expecting. It seems that the Aggie faithful are finally getting tired of consistent mediocrity.
A loss to Texas Tech could help Franchione sell his house in College Station. On the other hand, a road win against Texas Tech could spark the Aggies to a great finish.
Mike Leach didn’t have quite the same expectations when he arrived at Texas Tech, but to say that he has outperformed Franchione would be a colossal understatement. Leach’s offensive mind and gambling mentality have brought Texas Tech nationwide renown.
With Leach at the helm, the Red Raiders are never out of a ball game.
Just ask Minnesota.
This game will be close throughout. Expect both teams to play their best football of the season in this pivotal conference match.
Can Dennis Franchione’s defense finally stymie Mike Leach’s aerial assault?
I don’t think so.
Because the combination of Graham Harrell, Michael Crabtree, Danny Amendola, and a running game that is ready to unleash some building frustration will spell doom for Texas A&M.
Texas A&M: 27
Texas Tech: 38