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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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5 things to look for in A&M’s regular season finale at LSU

Junior+Isaiah+Spiller%26%23160%3Bcarries+the+ball+towards+the+endzone.
Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Junior Isaiah Spiller carries the ball towards the endzone.

The culmination of Texas A&M football’s 2021 regular season is a night game against the LSU Tigers.
A&M travels to Tiger Stadium to face LSU on Saturday, Nov. 27 as they look to defeat the Tigers for the second year in a row.
Here are five things to look for in the game.
Hostile environment
A&M struggled in only one other true road matchup — Ole Miss. It’s fair to wonder if its road struggles could continue to persist in Baton Rouge, La., against LSU. Tiger Stadium, or “Death Valley,” is considered one of the more intimidating road environments in all of college football.
Sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson said he expects the Tigers’ crowd to be ready when A&M plays LSU on Saturday night.
“I have never played there, but it’s in the SEC,” Johnson said. “I think it’s a night game, [so] it’s going to be rocking, it’s going to be loud.”
Part of becoming a perennial college football playoff contender is being able to consistently win on the road. If A&M wants to reach that tier in the future, the team has to become comfortable in difficult environments. A&M has a great opportunity to build road experience as it starts to look on to next season.
Budding rivalry
Since A&M moved to the Southeastern Conference, LSU has dominated the head-to-head matchups with an 8-2 record. The two teams have traded blows recently, with A&M winning the historic seven-overtime thriller in 2018 and the Tigers winning 50-7 the following year en route to a national championship.
A&M has won two of the last three matchups as the annual game has become more competitive and the two programs seem to be moving in opposite directions with the Tigers looking for their next head coach. LSU’s not subtle courtship of A&M coach Jimbo Fisher is also sure to add more fire to an already competitive matchup.
Fisher said the game is important because LSU is routinely one of the best teams in the SEC West.
“They’re important games, because they’re SEC West games,” Fisher said. “All the West games, I call them ‘double whammies’ because they are big games and they’re inter-divisional games. And they’re all rivalries to me. [LSU is] a great team, and they’re one of the teams we’re going to contend with year in and year out because they always have great players.”
Final home game
LSU is on the lookout for its next coach with current coach Ed Orgeron departing after the season. The Tigers’ game against the Aggies is Orgeron’s last home game, and it could be his last game in general, should they lose bowl eligibility.
Even though LSU owns an unimpressive 5-6 record, it has still shown it can play top teams, such as Alabama, close. The Tigers should come into this matchup with something to prove, and the Aggies have to be prepared for it.
Fisher said A&M has to come into the game with intensity and play up to its potential.
“Well, we’ve got to match their intensity,” Fisher said. “Listen, you play in this league, you better match all the intensity. Our opponent is not what we’ve got to base off of; it’s based [on] ourselves, our standard. Our opponents are faceless. Who you play doesn’t matter. It matters what we think and how we do things and to play to our standard.”
Young defensive players stepping up
A&M’s defense looks like it is hitting its stride as it marches toward the end of the regular season. Since the Aggies’ victory over Alabama on Oct. 9, the defense has only given up 20 points once, and that was against Ole Miss in a game that was close in large part due to the maroon and white’s defense.
Much of A&M’s recent success can be attributed to younger players, such as Johnson and true freshman corner Tyreek Chappell starting to play at the level of some of the veteran players. This type of all-around play has led to a more consistent defense.
Senior safety Leon O’Neal Jr. said after last week’s win over Prairie View A&M, the culture is what leads to young players playing at a high level so early on in their A&M careers.
“It’s super impressive,” O’Neal told 12thman.com. “We hold each other to a standard. We don’t care if you’re 18, 17 or 22 [years old]. Everybody has to be on the same page at practice. Just recently, I talked to [junior defensive back] Sam Mathews, and I told him even though you’re playing a small role right now, you think your job [doesn’t] matter as much, you’re a super important part of this team. Your role is only growing with you being here. I tell everybody the same thing. You’re part of the culture. Everything you do, you’re part of the culture.”
An opportunity for the Aggies
Saturday’s game against LSU provides A&M with the perfect opportunity to close out its 2021 regular season campaign on a high note. It has been an up and down season, but a victory over the Tigers will allow for A&M to potentially play in a bowl game on either New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day.
The matchup also gives the Aggies the chance to show they are here to stay in the SEC. Not many teams can say they beat both LSU and Alabama in the same season. If the maroon and white pull out a victory on Saturday night, it will show A&M is in the upper echelon of the SEC West for the foreseeable future.

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