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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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THE showdown

On Friday, No. 5 University of Texas and No. 22 Texas A&M will meet on the gridiron for the 111th time, battling not only for a much-needed victory, but for pride, honor and that added sense of satisfaction from taking down a hated rival.
Texas (9-1, 6-1 Big 12) will be attempting to keep its BCS hopes alive, and A&M (7-3, 5-2 Big 12) will be scrapping to earn a spot in the Cotton Bowl, a step up the ranks from the Aggies’ projected Holiday Bowl bid.
The Aggies enter the contest with the hope of a storybook ending to a marvelous turnaround season under second-year head coach Dennis Franchione. Not every game has been perfect though: A&M’s last four games have come down to the last play, three of them going to overtime. Franchione said the extra time off between the last game and Friday’s game is more than welcomed.
“I could tell the last week or 10 days that we needed a little physical healing and a little emotional time to get away a little bit and recharge,” Franchione said. “I think it’ll help us to have a day or two to let the guys get away from practice and the regiment of practice, refresh a little bit before we get started again on our game plan.”
Texas head coach Mack Brown will present a threat to the Aggie defense that Franchione typically enjoys dismantling opponents with – an extremely mobile quarterback. Vince Young will start under center for the Longhorns, and similar to A&M’s Reggie McNeal, Young is extremely dangerous with what Franchione calls “hold-your-breath” speed.
“One thing we may do these next few days is work a little more against each other than maybe normal because of similarities in quarterbacks and styles and some of our offense and their offense and some likeness to it,” Franchione said.
Although McNeal has put up numbers outranking Young’s, the Texas quarterback saved his team’s BCS hopes against Kansas two weeks ago, mastering a last-minute, come-from-behind touchdown drive that included a fourth-and-18 in which Young kept the ball and scrambled for the first down himself.
A&M’s main defensive game plan will come down to stopping not only Young, but also the Longhorns’ senior running back, Cedric Benson.
A&M has played well against big-name rushers this season however, holding three of the nation’s best backs to well below their season average. The Aggie defense shut down Kansas State’s Darren Sproles, held Oklahoma State’s Vernand Morency to 63 yards lower than his season average and limited Oklahoma freshman phenomenon Adrian Peterson to 103 yards, his lowest of the season prior to Kyle Field.
Brown said the game will be extra special this year because of bowl implications for both teams.
“My focus, like our team’s focus, has been on A&M because we understand that we wouldn’t be in any scenarios in the BCS if we don’t beat A&M,” Brown said. “(The team) is really impressed with A&M, so it has excited our guys about the game.”
The same feelings exude from the A&M locker room.
“This is the biggest rivalry in the nation,” said A&M senior wide receiver Terrence Murphy. “Everybody watches this game, so it will be good to go out and get a win and gain some momentum going into our bowl game.”

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