First Time for Everything: Texas A&M and three No.1's
BATON ROUGE, La. - Can anyone name the last time a team faced the No.1 school in the nation three times in one season? If you have a year, you'd be lying.
Never before has any school competed against the best in a trifecta battle. That is until Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. Texas A&M will make history as the first to accomplish this lesser appreciated feat.
Following their 56-20 victory against Arkansas, LSU (11-0, 7-0 SEC) was guaranteed to remain at the top for the AP voters. The College Football Playoff Committee believed otherwise Tuesday with their selection of No.1 Ohio State.
Both schools have shined the season due to innovative offensive execution. For now, it's more so about seeding in the postseason than some number next to their name.
But with the AP's decision, A&M will finish their season against another top opponent. This time could be different as both schools have a score to settle on the gridiron from a season ago.
In College Station, a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Mond to Quartney Davis to tie the game as time expired. The Tigers would push back through seven overtimes, eventually collapsing on a two-point conversion attempt to Kendrick Rogers. It would lead to a 74-72 victory in favor of the Aggies.
Since that cold November night at Kyle Field, it's been on the minds of all those found in Baton Rouge. Feeling as if the game was in their reach, the Tigers will be playing with fire, hoping for a chance a redemption.
“Immediately after the game, it was like, it’s already redemption time as far as next week,” LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire told reporters Sunday. “The gear’s already switched. That’s how it’s been every week. We owe those guys a lot from last year.”
While the Tigers have found a progression against top 10 opponents, the Aggies are on the other end of the spectrum. In Week 2, A&M fell to then-No.1 Clemson on the road (24-10). Kellen Mond and offense couldn't establish an identity until the closing drive with seconds left to play.
Five weeks later, they'd find a bit of offensive success against top-ranked Alabama. Kellen Mond's two touchdown outing would happen too late in a lopsided 47-28 defeat.
Lesson learned, A&M coach Jimbo Fisher believes that while the number remains the same, the Aggies growth could lead to a different outcome.
“Hopefully the moral victories will be over with and we’ll have an incredible environment to go into next week and play a really good team,” Fisher said. “It’s giving you experience and it’s making you grow up very quickly.”
The Aggies rebounded following their loss to the Crimson Tide. Winning four of their last five games, A&M is set to return to bowl season for the 11th straight year. Even in close losses to No.4 Georgia and then-No.8 Auburn, the team found ways to create a rhythm late and make things interesting.
With both teams looking for something to play for, the Aggies could be setting history in multiple ways. In 2018, the A&M handed LSU their second loss of the year.
It was the last time the Tigers found themselves on the "L" category. They could fall on that side once more come kickoff at 6 p.m. in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.