It was a wild one in College Station, Texas, as the Longhorns yielded their highest point total of the year to in-state rival Texas A&M.
On the strength of Colt McCoy's 479 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, the Longhorns were able to outlast the persistent Aggies 49-39.
The game was indeed as close as the score indicates as A&M was able to outscore the Longhorns in the fourth quarter, but a 10-point differential in the second and third quarters was too much to overcome to the Aggies.
Texas A&M came into the game 6-5 looking for their first win against a ranked opponent all year. Quarterback Jerrod Johnson had a breakout game totaling 439 yards of offense with four touchdowns to only one interception.
Three of the touchdowns were to sophomore wide receiver Jeff Fuller, who also had an exceptional game, posting his best numbers since the opening game of the season.
Coming into the game, Texas was heavily favored, and with the third ranked total defense in the country, it looked to a blowout.
Even with everything to play for, a shot at the National Title still on the line, it is possible that Texas might have been looking ahead to the Big-12 title match with Nebraska. A&M had only put up 49 points or more twice all season long, and once in conference.
Did the stifling defense that Texas has had on display all season fail, was the defense exposed? The follow up performance against Nebraska, and then a bowl game, will tell the whole story.
It looks like a mix of it being a rivalry game, which means what should happen is rarely reflected in the actual game, and possibly looking ahead to Nebraska in the Big-12 title game.
Remember back to 2005, the Longhorns took home the national title, only after barely surviving their game with A&M. The thing to watch for is that A&M’s spread offense DID tear up the Longhorns defense, and A&M is not near as effect as Florida at that style offense.
Texas Defensive Coordinator Will Muschamp should use this as a wakeup call, and make sure that, if it is Florida they face for the National Title, they are more prepared.
The other two teams that play a significant role in the National Title picture are SEC powers Florida and Alabama. Both teams also have their rivalry games this weekend, before the showdown between the two squads in the SEC Title game.
While their participation in the SEC Title game is assured, both need victories in their rivalry games to keep in the National Title picture.
The Sunshine Showdown or Battle for the Governor’s Cup was dominated by Florida State in the '90s as the Seminoles held an 8-4 edge over the Gators.
Both teams were incredibly strong, and led to some epic rivalry games. The last nine years, however, have not been so kind to the ‘Noles.
After the departure of Steve Spurrier, the Gators were looking to keep the momentum going, hiring Ron Zook to care for the program. While Zook was a heck of a recruiter, his four or five losses a season did not sit well with the Gator faithful.
In comes Urban Meyer. The young coach took over the talent the Zook brought in and has won two national championships in three years, and is looking to play for their third in four.
While Florida had coaching changes and came out for the better, Florida State has declined under legendary coach Bobby Bowden. The man who led the team to no fewer than 10 wins for 1987 to 2000 has had one 10-win season since then. The last three years have produced two seven-win season and a nine-win season last year.
Coming into this game FSU is 6-5 and looking to once again reach the seven win total; hopefully giving more hope to the squad for last year.
Bobby Bowden has insisted that this is a young team and he feels next year he can lead them to a great season and walk away a winner.
Florida is not having it though. After going head to head in the '90s and coming out on the losing end, the Gators have chomped the Seminoles six of the nine times they have met since 2001.
The 2003 game, known to UF fans as "the swindle in the swamp" due to controversial calls, has Gator fans feeling they really have only lost two games this decade to their hated rival.
These two squads look to be going in opposite directions, but FSU is still enough of a challenge that Florida will have a hard time looking past them.
Since Tim Tebow’s famous, or infamous depending on your opinions on the Gators, speech, the Gators have not lost a game.
While the offense has not been as dynamic minus Percy Harvin and Offensive Coordinator Dan Mullen, they still have Tim Tebow and speedy running backs Jeffrey Demps and Chris Rainey, making this one of the most dangerous offenses still, ranking 15th in the nation.
Also important to remember is that Harvin did not play in last year's SEC title game, and have proven in those games and this year they can still score without their playmaking wideout.
Couple that with a strong D, which, despite all the attention paid to the offense, has been the strength of the Gators NC runs this decade, is still dominating ranking No. 2 in the nation.
The Seminoles come into the game with a decent offense ranking 16th in the nation, but an atrocious defense which ranks 106 in total defense in the nation!
It is a rivalry game, and there is still a lot of hate between these two teams, but if Florida State is looking to take back the Sunshine State from Florida, they should start looking to next year, as this year, it is all Florida.
Looking at Alabama-Auburn, we have two teams that just a couple years ago looked to be going in opposite directions.
Before landing Nick Saban, Alabama was struggling to find a coach and had been out of the SEC title race for too long, their fans felt, and what made it worse is that Auburn stepped up in the meantime, culminating in a 13-0 season in 2004.
That team was coached by Tommy Tuberville, who resigned at the end of the 2008 season under uncertain circumstances. The official story is he resigned on his own, and the admin was "shocked." Those close to the Auburn program feel there may have been more to it than that.
Regardless of the reasoning, Auburn brought back Gene Chizik from Iowa State, but he is better known to the Auburn folks as the defensive coordinator of that 2004 squad.
It was his performance as defensive coordinator and familiarity to the AD that got him the job at Auburn, certainly not his five wins while head man at ISU.
This year’s 7-4 Auburn team is a shell of that 2004 team but is still dangerous. With a balance, productive offense ranking No. 16 in the country, Auburn looks to challenge Alabama’s stingy No. 1 rated defense in the country.
Alabama has a strong defense as well having the fourth-ranked offense in the SEC. Auburn is a team in flux with a first year coach, but does look to be headed back in the right direction.
Auburn’s only win over a ranked opponent was Mississippi last month, and the Tigers have struggled mightily in the SEC with all four of their losses coming in conference.
Alabama, on the other hand, has won against all three ranked teams they have played, and are full of confidence coming into this game.
Last year marked the "tide" turning again in the Iron Bowl, as after six consecutive wins over Alabama, Auburn got shut out last year. Alabama holds a 10-game lead in the series, and I expect that go to 11 this Saturday.
With Mark Ingram powering the strong running game on the ground, and the defense playing lights out, Alabama is too strong. While it is a rivalry game, and it is possible Alabama looks ahead to UF, I just don’t see the upset in this one.
Texas did their part Thanksgiving night, and barring an upset in the Big-12 title game, will be waiting to see who will be their huckleberry for the National Title game.
Rivalry games, which can be the biggest game of the season for some teams, is the only thing stopping an epic one vs. two showdown in the SEC Title game with the winner getting the trip to the National Title game.
In the past, Auburn and Florida State have caused UF and ‘Bama fits, but this year they are too strong. Get your popcorn ready for the SEC Title game, it should be incredible!
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