Texas A&M vs. Baylor: What could have been

Posted Friday, Nov. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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galloway Dang you, Aggies.

It’s a time like this when we really, really miss you fightin’ farmers.

Well, actually, I never miss you. I follow you faithfully via TV. When Johnny Football takes a snap, I do not nap.

But in the case of the Big 12, and it’s the conference of choice around here, Aggie withdrawal has currently cast a long shadow over our state, simply because the most, by far, entertaining game of the season cannot happen.

The Aggies in Baton Rouge on Saturday is a good one.

The Bears in Stillwater on Saturday is a good one.

But think bigger and better.

Texas A&M vs. Baylor.

Highway 6 Hellapalooza.

Now we’re talking, except there’s nothing to talk about.

A year ago, yes, the Aggies and Johnny Manziel left the Big 12 mired in Brazos River muck. Right away, the SEC stage made A&M a national big room act.

Big 12 teams were lucky to get a gig at the patio bar. There was nothing in the conference in 2012 that could come close to competing with A&M.

But this season?

Aggies and Bears?

Look, no matchup in the nation could top Aggies and Bears for pure entertainment.

Speaking of pure fun, I called the boys in Vegas this week, and asked for expertise.

My hypothetical question to the guys working the sports book for the MGM Mirage was this: Baylor and the Aggies meet this week at The Big Yard in Arlington. The neutral field betting line would be what?

Surprised, but not shocked, when the answer came back: Baylor by one point. Maybe two.

For comparison, consider the Bears are playing “The Game” of the season in the Big 12 on Saturday in Stillwater. Baylor opened in Vegas as a massive 10 1/2-point road favorite.

In an early reversal, the Oklahoma State bettors drove the number down to 8 1/2 points, but Baylor money has now moved it back to 9 1/2.

What we’d seen all season is Baylor being a heavy favorite to start with in all its games, then the bettors driving up the number by steaming the Bears another five, six, seven and so on points.

Not that your neighborhood Baptist preacher wants to know this, but the Bears have become the most popular team in the nation to bet on. (That fact makes me laugh just writing it.)

And the bettors are laughing all the way to the payoff window. Baylor has covered huge point spreads in eight of nine games (only failing in a 10-point win against Kansas State).

The Aggies, of course, have played a much, much tougher schedule because of their SEC ties. The Big 12 can’t come close in strength to the SEC, and the Bears also whacked a collection of nobodies in nonconference.

But with Art Briles throwing down offensive jihad, and with an improved defense, the Bears have become the national surprise story, and rightfully so.

Baylor vs. the Aggies would be, by far, the high-profile matchup of the season for the Big 12.

How many points would A&M, with its defensive struggles, give up?

But on the flip side, the recycled Bears’ defense, very good against most Big 12 clubs, would be facing a far different offensive animal in John Football and his receivers and his running backs.

When Vegas speaks, however, I listen.

Baylor favored by one point, maybe two, in a hypothetical neutral field matchup is what Vegas says.

Then again, the Vegas point spread is also based on estimating how the betting money will flow. This is a season when Baylor has earned Vegas’ highest honor. The Bears are called “the public’s team.” In other words, the public loves to put its cash on the Bears.

When the Aggies departed us two years ago, the yelping centered heavily on the lost rivalry with the University of Texas.

Baylor? Who the heck cared about a rivalry with Baylor at the time?

As a Sooner friend said, in jealous disgust, a couple of weeks ago after the Bears totally trashed Oklahoma, “After nearly two decades of stealing money from this conference, taking, taking, taking and never putting a dime back in the coffers, I’m just glad those Baptists can finally make a bleeping contribution.”

Even if the rest of the conference wants to be catty about it, the Bears are now on the verge of calling in their long history of Big 12 IOUs.

But let’s also consider the timing for Baylor.

It is great timing. No Aggies. No Johnny Football.

Where would Baylor be if it were wading through A&M’s schedule, which still has road games at LSU and Missouri? You can hear SEC voices say the Bears would at least have three L’s, but that’s also a bit pompous.

Meanwhile, please spare me your replies that the Aggie honchos made the decision to move out and move on from UT, so A&M doesn’t matter anymore in the Big 12.

Me, I’m here for the entertainment. I’d just like to see the game, a game that had once been played for like a hundred years, Bears and Aggies, this week, next week, whenever.

This game could have happened, if only…

Dang you, Aggies. You left us.

Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @sportsdfw

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