Texas A&M Doesn't Look at the Past, Instead Prep for Future Against LSU
COLLEGE STATION - As he approached the microphone following another stellar performance, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow grinned at the question ahead. He knew what was on every reporter's mind, and it had nothing to with his 327-yard performance against Arkansas.
All eyes had turned to the week ahead as the clock struck zero in LSU's 56-20 victory over the Razorbacks. Rivalry week and a chance to seek revenge on Texas A&M were all that was on the minds in Tiger Stadium.
Burrow smiled when asked about Saturday's matchup in his final home game. And how could he not? Everyone in Baton Rouge knows what's at stake should LSU (11-0, 6-1 SEC) pull out the victory.
"I'm excited for Saturday," Burrow said. "Chance to go 12-0."
The Aggies (7-4, 4-3 SEC) will have the chance to spoil the Tigers' question to perfection with a stellar game plan Saturday evening. Fighting back late in the fourth quarter, A&M proved they can contend with anyone so long as the offense finds a rhythm. It just was too late between the hedges in the 19-13 loss to No.4 Georgia last weekend.
The turnaround in the second half gave life to Aggie fanbase despite the loss. Abandoning the run game, Jimbo Fisher trusted Kellen Mond and the passing attack to carry the way. The junior would throw for 192 yards and a touchdown in two quarters to put the Aggies down by six.
A potential missed holding call on Jalen Wydermyer forced a Braden Mann punt. Georgia running back D'Andre Swift would run for a first down with under 90 seconds to seal the victory for the home squad.
Fisher still is proud of how his team rebounded despite a sluggish start.
"That's what happens in heavy-weight fights. There's plays to be made, but we kept fighting and still gave ourselves a chance to be successful," Fisher said Monday at his press conference.
The heavy-weight battle was paused rather than finished for the boys out in College Station. Round two will come Saturday when they face the Tigers, who clinched the SEC West over the weekend.
For one team, they hope to end the season on the right note. For the other, it's about revenge for the aftermath from a season ago.
In what could be described as perhaps the game of the year in 2018, the Aggies and Tigers exchanged blows on their way to a seven overtime battle at Kyle Field. A field goal by Cole Tracey would be countered by one from Seth Small. A Mond touchdown pass would be mirrored with a Burrow touchdown run.
In the end, a two-point conversion to Kendrick Rogers sealed the 74-72 victory for the Aggies. Guts and luck brought A&M to an 8-4 record while taking LSU out of the playoff equation. And for nearly a year, it's been on the minds of all who wear the purple and gold.
"It's going to be on," Orgeron said, according to LSU Maven's Glen West. "I'll never forget that game last year. We're going to be ready. There was nothing we could do about the end of that game, we felt helpless. But there is something we can do about it this week."
While LSU hopes to complete the "revenge tour," it's the last thing on Fisher's mind. Instead, he'll to focus on finding ways to hand the Tigers a loss before the conclusion of the season.
"We know we have to play well. We know what kind of team they are," Fisher said. "They know they're going to want to come and play us very well and we're going to have to play very well. At the end of the day, it's going to come down to how we play and we have to prepare to play and that's what we'll do like we normally do and be ready to go."
If anyone could explain a night game's atmosphere at Tiger Stadium, Fisher would be a prime candidate. As the former offensive coordinator for the Tigers, the Fisher spent many nights prepping for opponents inside of Baton Rouge, helping the team pick up a national title in 2003.
"Going down there be a tough environment," Fisher said. "I've been there many times on the road and as a home team, so I know what it's like. They have great fans, great people and a great team."
With a chance at perfection, along with revenge, the Tigers have a perfect concoction brewing for another resume time win. Rivalry week will bring out the best in teams, even those who struggle.
And for A&M, perhaps carrying over the fuel from Athens could ignite the spark. Best believe LSU will be carrying a fire that's been fueled for nearly a year.
"We're already self-motivated," A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike said. "We just came off a tough loss in Athens, so we're very pissed off about that."