Texas Tech-Texas A&M Clash Yet Again

For the 62nd time in history, Texas Tech and Texas A&M will square off this Saturday in what is shaping up to be another classic between these two Big XII rivals. Although A&M leads the overall series 33-28-1, Tech has won three straight meetings and seven of the last 10.

In recent memory, these two have played earlier in the football season, like in October for instance. However, this year, each school has just two games remaining and everyone knows how crucial this game is for their school and their postseason destination.

Senior linebacker Mike Smith has been to Kyle Field in College Station before and knows a thing or two about this game including its significance this year.

"This is a big game for both schools and we need to come out and start fast and make some big hits and big plays from the start of the game," said Smith. "Whoever does that first is going to win the game. This game will probably go down to the end, it will be a hard fought game and we're all going to have to go out there and compete."

"The next two weeks is pretty huge for us as a team," Smith continued. "We're going to give it everything we got and it just seems like everything is unfolding for us."

Due to poor play from the Big 12 North division, three teams from the Big 12 South division are currently scrambling for the best possible bowl. Coming down the home stretch of conference play, Tech is looking to make a statement by jumping into the top tier of bowl games.

Tech, A&M and Oklahoma State are currently tied for third in the South with a 4-2 record.

With wins in their final two games, Tech could have a shot to go to the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Tech has not been to the Cotton Bowl since 1995 when they lost to Southern California 55-14.

Nevertheless, a trip to the Cotton Bowl is light years away. The task currently at hand is a solid A&M club who under second-year coach Dennis Franchione has made drastic improvements on all sides of the ball.

Some ponder the fact if it is the same team that suited up last year. This is the team that lost to the Oklahoma Sooners last year 77-0 and turned around this year and gave them the scare of the year in College Station before losing 42-35.

"They really execute their scheme well this season and you can see that on film," head coach Mike Leach said. "There's no comparison between their team this year and last year. They're a lot better and defensively they're really strong."

There is always talk about Tech and their high-octane offense people see week in and week out. However, with junior sensation Reggie McNeal leading the way, A&M has something to be proud of with the 13th ranked offense in the nation.

The Aggies are also very prude with the football. A&M is the sixth in the nation in turnover margin averaging 1.22 mishaps in their favor.

However, in a rivalry of this stature and with this much on the line, you can take the stat sheet and throw it in the wastebasket. When these teams meet, anything can happen.

For Tech to emerge victorious, they have to pull out a victory in one of the most hostile and exciting places to play in all the land.

Senior quarterback Sonny Cumbie has never led his team into a game in Kyle Field but he knows what it is all about. Cumbie says it is a great rivalry and he hopes to add another win for Tech.

"By far, Kyle Field is the most exciting place that we've ever been to play, and I think it is one of the greatest atmospheres in college football history," Cumbie said.

In their most recent trip down to College Station, the Raiders added another chapter in this great rivalry when they battled back from 18 points down in the fourth quarter to beat the Aggies 48-47 in overtime.

I would say that what Red Raider fans want the most is a solid effort this Saturday combined with a lot of heart and effort, and a healthy team to return to Lubbock Saturday night, but I might be a bit off. While that is what most Tech fans want, I'd be lying if I said that most fans didn't want this game bad.

It would not just be a victory over A&M. It would be a victory for the program. It could be a step in the right direction for a team that has been marred by some as being above average at best. It could help catapult this team into the Cotton Bowl – or some other quality bowl that Tech has not graced its presence with – and help establish Tech as a national power.

I hate to turn a simple football game between rivals into my own little hyperbole, but this game deserves that type of notoriety.

Frankly, I would not have any other group of guys out on the field and no other coach but our Mike Leach leading our team onto the field this Saturday.

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