Strength in Numbers

<B>No Place Like Home-Unless You're An Aggie</b>

Similar to the post-game ineptitude the Aggie Corps Cadets exhibit when they attempt to enforce order at Kyle Field and instead create chaos, the A&M football team often fails to establish rule of its home turf. In contrast, programs such as Texas, Nebraska, Kansas State, and Oklahoma can claim real home field domination.

The Corps again embarrassed itself and Texas A&M last Saturday when yet another brainwashed member acted to prevent the "desecration" of the so-called sacred surface of Kyle Field by blindsiding an unsuspecting opponent's fan. The criminal cult disciple arrived far too late, however, as the Nebraska offense stomped, plowed, and all but defaced the Ags' home field before the final gun even sounded. This Huskers' team owned a five-game road losing streak before arriving at the friendly confines of College Station.

Such accommodating hosting has become quite common for A&M, as it has now lost four of its last six games at home, and three of the last four. The Ags' only two home wins in 2002 occurred against Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech, which are a combined 4-12. The latter, in fact, provided SMU with its only victory of the season. While one of A&M's three home losses this fall came at the hands of powerful Virginia Tech, the other two proceeded against recently average Nebraska (only 3-3 versus BCS conference opponents) and Texas Tech (3-4 versus BCS conference teams). Without the benefit of playing at Kyle Field, these two schools combine for a timid 4-7 record against squads from BCS conferences. Incredibly, including Texas' 2001 season-ending 21-7 victory, A&M has now lost four straight games at home to such teams!

In contrast, the Longhorns own a 17-game home winning streak, not suffering a defeat since October 2, 1999–a span of over three years. Since that last home loss, to a Kansas State squad headed toward yet another 11-win season, Texas has accumulated a 7-0 mark in Austin against teams with winning records. Mack Brown may not be considered the ultimate "big game" coach (though such a label is subjective), but he has regained the home edge Texas once enjoyed under the legendary Darrell Royal. Longhorn fans vividly recall stupefying and embarrassing home defeats like 66-3 to UCLA, 66-15 to Houston (compounded by pitiful officiating, as if the Cougs needed any help), and 50-7 to Baylor under Brown's two predecessors.

The current Texas head coach and his team are to be commended for defeating Kansas State in Manhattan, where Bill Snyder has created a difficult environment for opponents that visit the "Little Apple." Despite two defeats in 2001 (against four wins), the Wildcats possess an impressive home record in recent history. Following a defeat back in 1996 to two-time defending national champion Nebraska, K-State amassed a 25-game winning streak in Manhattan before losing to eventual national champ Oklahoma in 2000. This season, the ‘Cats jumped all over an excellent USC Trojans squad and held on for a 27-20 victory. Later, as part of a 5-0 home record before losing to Texas, KSU thumped Oklahoma State (which nearly beat Texas in Austin and defeated Nebraska), 44-9.

Staying within Big Twelve country, Bob Stoops has made Norman, Oklahoma a deathtrap for opponents. Under his regime, which began in 1999, the Sooners have compiled a 21-1 home mark, losing only in a stunner to 4-7 Oklahoma State. In its last appearance at home, Oklahoma crushed previously unbeaten Iowa State, 49-3.

As dominating as OU is on its turf, Nebraska owns perhaps the most impressive home record of any program in the country. The Huskers, which host the Longhorns this weekend, have won a prodigious 72 of their last 73 games in Lincoln, including 25 straight. The latest streak follows a 47-game home streak that Texas snapped on Halloween of 1998. Since a 1985 loss to Florida State, the Big Red Machine has racked up a 104-5 mark in Lincoln, with its only losses (excepting the '98 loss to UT) coming against teams which finished ranked third or higher. Two of those (Colorado in '90 and Washington in '91) finished No. 1.

Texas draws both Kansas State and Nebraska on the road this season. Though the Horns defeated the Wildcats already, beating both in the same season has proven exceedingly difficult. To find the last time Kansas State and Nebraska both lost at home in the same year, regardless of opponent, one must travel back to 1991. The Wildcats lost to defending national champion Colorado, while the Cornhuskers fell to UPI title team Washington. Retreating 15 years, to 1987, is necessary to find a season in which one team defeated both K-State (pre-Bill Snyder) and Nebraska on the road: Barry Switzer's Oklahoma Sooners. It should be noted that though the Huskers have played poorly at times since late 2001, none of those performances occurred at home. The Longhorns surely face a tough task this Saturday.

While programs like Texas, Kansas State, Nebraska, and Oklahoma have established indisputable home-field control, Texas A&M fans have witnessed their program's near-monopoly in College Station disintegrate. The Twelfth Man, however rabid, cannot take up the slack of the other eleven.

Bert Hancock has owned two college football-related web sites and was designated "Lead Writer" of one of the first independent web sites dedicated strictly to UT sports. At the University of Texas, where he received a Bachelor of Business degree, his area of specialty was in statistics and probabilities. His "Strength In Numbers" column appears weekly on InsideTexas.com.


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