One Last Time: Texas players prepared for yet another emotional game, wild atmosphere

Christian Corona

The rivalry between Texas and Texas A&M is truly a tradition unlike any other.

The first Masters tournament was played in 1934, 40 years after the Longhorns and Aggies began playing each other. But with Texas A&M bolting for the SEC, its 118th meeting with Texas may be the last. No golf tournament has anything on the Lone Star Showdown, which has truly been a tradition like any other.

“My family always used to watch Texas and Texas A&M,” said head coach Mack Brown. “When it was on Thursday, I always thought it was more special because it was the only game in town.”

Emotions ran high last weekend when the Longhorns faced Kansas State on Senior Night. Their comeback attempt fell short but Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium saved its loudest home game for last. But with the Lone Star Showdown coming to a close, at least for the near future, fans and players alike are sure to get amped up for the Thanksgiving Day clash.

“This week’s game is going to be wild,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “I’m ready to be in that atmosphere. It’s going to be one that’s remembered.”

Both the Longhorns and Aggies have underachieved this season. Texas A&M found itself among the top 10 ranked teams in this year’s preseason polls while Texas looked to bounce back from an abysmal 5-7 campaign. The Aggies have lost five games, becoming notorious for blowing double-digit second-half leads and didn’t even become bowl eligible until demolishing Kansas last weekend. But if this rivalry has taught us anything, it’s that win-loss records don’t seem to matter as much when Texas and Texas A&M square off.

“No matter what the score is or what the series says, they’re going to come out and play hard whatever their record is,” Snow said.

Kyle Field, self-proclaimed home of the 12th Man, is known to produce deafening decibel levels when the Aggies host a football game. The 84-year-old stadium is never louder than when the Longhorns roll into College Station. And with Texas’ nonconference schedule filled through 2017, the atmosphere at Kyle Field Thursday may be the wildest this 118-year-old rivalry has seen.

“It’ll be a passionate and emotional game,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “We know what to expect. It’s a hostile environment. They do a great job of really having a 12th man out there.”

There is no love lost between these two in-state rivals. The animosity between these two schools have spanned three centuries and with Texas A&M set to face teams like LSU, Florida and Auburn, the Aggies’ and Longhorns’ fanbase are sure to be looking to make the most of their last chance to let the other know how they feel about them. As for the players, many claimed that they are treating this week’s game like any other but one acknowledged the consequences of a rivalry as fierce as this one.

“When you have hate going on, certain cheap shots go on, especially from the other side,” said Snow. “That’s the great thing about the trenches – only men survive down there.”

Thanks to this season’s conference realignment developments, another of the Big 12’s beloved rivalries was lost after Texas A&M’s move to the SEC has brought the Lone Star Showdown to a halt while Nebraska, who moved to the Big Ten before this season, effectively ended its historic rivalry with Oklahoma. But with the prospect of lucrative television deals in sight, the world of college sports has nearly been altered beyond recognition.

“The decisions aren’t being made about football,” Brown said. “The realignment decisions are being made by administrators and trustees, not football coaches or football players. It’s bigger than us.”

This week’s contest between Texas and Texas A&M might not have national championship or BCS implications. There aren’t any Heisman Trophy contenders taking the field in College Station on Thursday night.

But that doesn’t mean this year’s Lone Star Showdown isn’t one of this week’s most meaningful. Because, like the Longhorns’ longtime head coach said about conference realignment, it’s bigger than us.