Few things match the power and prowess of rivalries on a college football Saturday. A week is dedicated at the end of the season to two programs back-talking and causing an uproar on social media before kickoff ensues and bragging rights are handed out.
Texas A&M's biggest "rival" as of now is LSU, the other SEC West team without a legitimate in-state opponent willing to face them in the final days of November. And while games between the Aggies and Tigers have grown in the Jimbo Fisher era, there's nothing that compares to the Texas-Texas A&M standoff that occurs on Thanksgiving.
The last time A&M faced Texas, Justin Tucker kicked a game-winning field to end the rivalry in the hands of Hook'Em. All that is set to change when the Longhorns join Oklahoma in the SEC as late as 2025.
“College football loves rivalries," Fisher said in a recent interview with CBS Austin. "Every state loves its rivalries and Texas-Texas A&M is one of the great ones in college football. Now I hope the scheduling and the pods they put it in help enhance that rivalry. I’m sure they will. But we’ll find out in 2025."
The Aggies departed for the SEC following the 2011 season, hoping to rid themselves of the "little brother" notion held in the Big 12. Mixed results have come over the past decade in the new conference, but the Longhorns also have seen their fair share of lows since Tucker was carried off by teammates at Kyle Field.
Texas has since had three coaches, all of which have struggled to find consistency in the program. Charlie Strong suffered three losing seasons in a row before being fired in 2017.
Tom Herman took Texas back to the Big 12 championship in 2018 for the first time since 2009 and picked up a Sugar Bowl victory over Georgia weeks later.
He would be fired two years later after failing to reach a top 10 ranking in either season. New coach Steve Sarkisian went 5-7 in his first season and now is feeling the pressure to win right away. As a program, Texas suffered a new low in the 2022 NFL Draft, failing to see a single prospect be drafted in the class.
The Aggies shined in Year 1 of the Kevin Sumlin era, but coasted toward middle-tier during the remainder of his tenure. Sumlin never duplicated his Johnny Manziel magic over the next six seasons, leading to his firing in 2017.
Texas vs. Texas A&M
Fisher arrived in 2018 and has since posted a 34-14 record. His best season came in 2020 when the Aggies finished ranked fourth in the AP poll after a 9-1 record and Orange Bowl victory over North Carolina.
Both programs seem to be on the rise entering 2022. The Aggies just put the finishing touches on the No. 1 recruiting class in the country this offseason. Meanwhile, Texas thrived in the transfer portal, bringing in prospects such as quarterback Quinn Ewers (Ohio State), tight end Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama), receiver Isaiah Neyor (Wyoming) and defensive back Ryan Watts (Ohio State).
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Fisher sees the value of in-state rivalries, having been a part of one at Florida State. Rivalries also seem to be at their best when both teams are competitive. On paper, the Aggies and Longhorns should be near the top 10 each season if Sarkisian and Fisher live up to expectations as play-callers.
"When I was at Florida State we had the Miami and Florida rivalries along with Clemson. When I was at Auburn had Alabama. When I was at LSU we played Auburn," Fisher said. "Our big ones were Alabama and Auburn every year along with Ole Miss. I love rivalry games. I’ve always been very successful in them. I think that is what it is all about.”
The Longhorns have historically dominated the series, owning a 76-37-5 all-time edge over the Aggies.
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