History not on MSU's side

It's been 20 years since the Aggies lost their home opener at Kyle Field, but when was the last time A&M fell to a non-major conference team to open the season? Aggie Websider's David Sandhop takes a look at the history books.

The odds were already stacked against Montana State as they hit the road to face Texas A&M at venerable Kyle Field with a new head coach and an offseason of arrests and turmoil. But history is definitely not on the Bobcats side either.

The Aggies have not lost a home opener at Kyle Field in 20 years. In 1987, the No. 6 LSU Tigers outscored A&M 17-3 in College Station in an era when the Aggies opened every season mixing it up with the SEC powerhouse. The Aggies haven't lost the opener since.

While recent home openers have been against tamer foes such as The Citadel, Wyoming, SMU, and Arkansas State, the Aggies kept the 20 year winning streak alive against several legitimate BCS conference foes as well.

From 1989 through 1995, R.C. Slocum and the high-flying Aggies took out years of frustration on LSU. After being owned by the Tigers in the 1970s and mid-1980s, the Wrecking Crew was at its peak and the Aggies easily handled LSU at home. In 1989, an upstart Aggie team in Slocum's first year as head coach defeated No. 7 ranked LSU 28-16 powered by Larry Horton's touchdown on the season's opening kickoff.

A&M made it look easy the next three home games in the series overpowering a struggling LSU program 45-7, 24-0, and 33-17 at which time the Cajun athletic administration abruptly ended the series and broke the terms of their existing contract after the 1995 season.

However, there were other big season opening wins at Kyle Field. Two years prior to the formation of the Big 12 Conference, John Blake and the Oklahoma Sooners invaded Kyle Field, but were easily dismissed 36-14.

In 1988 in Jackie Sherrill's last year at A&M, the Aggies started the season 0-3 with a brutal three game stretch on the road, losing to No. 2 Nebraska, No. 17 LSU, and the Barry Sanders-led No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys. However, A&M returned to Kyle Field and thumped conference foe Texas Tech 50-15.

Prior to 1987, the home opener wasn't as kind to the Aggies, although the schedule maker certainly had something to do with A&M's struggles. In Jackie Sherrill's first game as head coach in 1982, the Aggies lost to Doug Flute and Boston College 38-16. Again in 1983, Sherrill couldn't take the season's first game at Kyle Field, dropping a 19-17 heart-breaker to the California Bears.

After going into State College and shocking Joe Paterno and No. 6 Penn State in 1979, the No. 11 Nittany Lions had payback on their minds in the 1980 rematch at Kyle Field, and easily outscored a bruised and battered Aggie team 25-9 in the team's home opener. A week earlier, A&M was dismantled by No. 12 Georgia in Athens, Georgia. You have to wonder if Tom Wilson had a thing or two to say to his athletic director about his non-conference schedule.

So when's the last time the Aggies lost a home opener at Kyle Field to a non-BCS (major) conference opponent? You'd have to go back to 1972 and Emory Ballard's inaugural season in Aggieland when the former Texas assistant took the reins of a downtrodden, beleaguered program. The Aggies opened the home schedule with a 24-14 loss to Army after coming off road losses against No. 7 Nebraska and No. 7 LSU.

Before 1972, you have to travel all the way back to the 1949 season to find another home opening loss to a non-major conference foe. The 1949 Aggies under coach Harry Stiteler lost 35-0 to Villanova. Of course, in 1949, the Wildcats were a good program finishing 8-1 and beating the likes of Penn State.

Of course, Saturday will not simply be about a win. It will be about the start of a highly anticipated season for a team stocked with experienced veterans on the line of scrimmage and gifted playmakers like Michael Goodson, Jorvorskie Lane, and Martellus Bennett at the skill positions.

It will also be about the Kyle Field experience, the ultimate experience. Enjoy.

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