A&M-LSU rivalry still evolving as high-stakes November showdown

Posted Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
A
More information Howdy, neighbor Familiar sparring partners in the past, LSU and Texas A&M are conference rivals now. The teams have played each other often, but usually in the opening weeks of the season when dreams of an unbeaten year provide motivation. A look at their past 10 meetings:
DateResultLocation
Oct. 20, 2012LSU, 24-19College Station
Jan. 7, 2010LSU, 41-24Dallas (Cotton Bowl)
Sept. 2, 1995A&M, 33-17College Station
Sept. 3, 1994A&M, 18-13Baton Rouge
Sept. 4, 1993A&M, 24-0College Station
Sept. 5, 1992A&M, 31-22Baton Rouge
Sept. 14, 1991A&M, 45-7College Station
Sept. 29, 1990LSU, 17-8Baton Rouge
Sept. 2, 1989A&M, 28-16College Station
Sept. 3, 1988LSU, 27-0Baton Rouge

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

The snarky T-shirts, a staple of any vibrant college football rivalry, have circulated for months in souvenir shops near the Texas A&M campus.

One of the most popular features a drawing of the world’s most interesting man from the imported beer commercials, raising a glass as if to make a toast. But the message emblazoned on the maroon shirt reads: “I don’t often hate, but when I do … I prefer to hate the LSU Tigers.”

Kinder, gentler versions are available. There’s also the “House Divided” shirt featuring approved logos from both schools and a blended maroon-and-purple color scheme for families caught in the crossfire of rivalry weekend.

Without question, these are changing times in college football. That will be driven home Saturday when No. 12 A&M (8-2, 4-2 in SEC) makes its first November trip to Baton Rouge, La., to play No. 22 LSU (7-3, 3-3) in front of a national TV audience (2:30 p.m., KTVT/Ch. 11).

For years, LSU matchups were September staples on A&M nonconference schedules. But the season-defining November rivalry game involved sawing off horns, not twisting tiger tails.

Realignment changed that. As second-year SEC members, the Aggies are preparing for Saturday’s first taste of November football against LSU before the series involves annual Thanksgiving weekend skirmishes, starting in 2014.

But will this rekindled rivalry invoke the same level of intensity as the one against Texas that stoked emotional embers for more than a century?

“I don’t know,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said Tuesday. “I think for our fans, it has the potential for that. For our current players, it’s probably different.”

In Sumlin’s estimation, it is too early for a team comprised primarily of players from Texas high schools to emotionally lock in on a rival that plays in a Louisiana stadium they have never seen. The Aggies last played in Tiger Stadium in 1994, when most current players were preschoolers and before some freshmen were born.

“Guys like Darian Claiborne couldn’t even walk the last time we went to Tiger Stadium. Think about that,” Sumlin said, reflecting on A&M’s freshman middle linebacker. “We’ve played LSU one time. And that was at home. These guys haven’t been over there for a game. In order for it to feel like a rivalry to a player, you’ve got to play in the other guy’s building.”

A&M will cross that threshold Saturday. Because the Aggies will do so with nine Louisiana natives on their defensive depth chart, including six projected starters, the rivalry factor may hit them faster in Tiger Stadium than in other venues. At least that is Sumlin’s hope.

“I’ve got a feeling as soon as we try to get into Tiger Stadium [on game day], I think they’ll figure out what kind of an atmosphere we’re playing in and what kind of a rivalry it is,” Sumlin said.

During Tuesday’s news conference, multiple players attempted to assign a value to the LSU rivalry in A&M’s fresh SEC pecking order.

“The LSU game is up there in the top three,” defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said. “Of course, Alabama is one. Florida would be one. And LSU as well.”

Let the record show “rival” Florida, an SEC East Division school, is not on this year’s schedule and may not surface again for several seasons as league officials decide how to administer a 14-member league. So it’s clear some Aggies have a little learning to do about prioritizing their angst against their new neighbors.

But not the guys from Louisiana. Defensive end Julien Obioha, a New Orleans native, said Saturday’s game is one he’s had circled for months.

“It didn’t really matter if Texas A&M chose it as a rivalry, it already was a rivalry in my book,” said Obioha, who did not receive a scholarship offer from LSU. “Whenever I see LSU as the next opponent, I know I have to work a little harder and know my assignment a little more. I’m going to be more fired up because we’re playing LSU.”

Asked about the rivalry’s status to most teammates, Obioha said: “It’s definitely becoming a rivalry.”

But it needs more time, as well as more heart-stopping and heart-breaking results for both schools, to reach the level of late-season passion you’ll see Nov. 30, when Alabama plays at Auburn. Or Ohio State visits Michigan.

Unlike in past seasons against Texas, when pregame trash talk flowed between players from both schools, Tuesday’s closest brush with bulletin-board material came from offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi. The junior from Allen, who said he plans to explore the possibility of entering the 2014 NFL Draft in January, expressed pleasure that Saturday’s game in “Death Valley” will not be played at night because that means the team plane can return to College Station by evening.

“I’m happy we’ll be back here in time to celebrate the win,” Ogbuehi said.

By trash-talk standards, that’s pretty tame. But given time, this rivalry could morph into one of the SEC’s best. It just needs more shared history with conference titles on the line. A few more snarky T-shirts might help, too.

Jimmy Burch, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Jimmy_Burch

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
Los Angeles14Top 8th | Box
Chicago Cubs3@theBallpark | TV: SportsNet LA, WGN, MLB N
Boston 9/19 7:05 PM ET
Baltimore TV: NESN, MASN
Toronto 9/19 7:05 PM ET
NY Yankees TV: SNET, YES
Milwaukee 9/19 7:05 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FSN-WI, ROOT-PIT
Washington 9/19 7:10 PM ET
Miami TV: MASN 2, FSN-FL
Chicago WSox 9/19 7:10 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CSN-CHI, Sun Sports
NY Mets 9/19 7:35 PM ET
Atlanta TV: SNY, FSN-S
Arizona 9/19 8:10 PM ET
Colorado TV: FSN-AZ, ROOT-RM
Seattle 9/19 8:10 PM ET
Houston TV: ROOT-NW, CSN-HOU
Detroit 9/19 8:10 PM ET
Kansas City TV: FSN-DET, FSN-KC, ESPN 2
Cleveland 9/19 8:10 PM ET
Minnesota TV: STO, FSN-N
Cincinnati 9/19 8:15 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FSN-OH, FSN-MW
Philadelphia 9/19 9:35 PM ET
Oakland TV: CSN-PHI, CSN-CA
Texas 9/19 10:05 PM ET
LA Angels TV: TXA-21, FSN-W, MLB Net
San Francisco 9/19 10:10 PM ET
San Diego TV: CSN-BA, FSN-SD, MLB Net
Full Scoreboard
Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Week 3Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Tampa Bay14Final | Box
Atlanta «56Gridiron Replay
Sunday
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Cincinnati TV: CBS
Baltimore 1:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CBS
Green Bay 1:00 PM ET
Detroit TV: FOX
Indianapolis 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: CBS
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
New England TV: CBS
Minnesota 1:00 PM ET
New Orleans TV: FOX
Houston 1:00 PM ET
NY Giants TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: FOX
Dallas 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: FOX
San Francisco 4:05 PM ET
Arizona TV: FOX
Kansas City 4:25 PM ET
Miami TV: CBS
Denver 4:25 PM ET
Seattle TV: CBS
Pittsburgh 8:30 PM ET
Carolina TV: NBC
Monday
Chicago 8:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Friday, September 19Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard