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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 BattalionMay 4, 2024

Cagin’ the Cajun Tigers

Senior wide receiver Jalen Preston was frank when asked last week what the Texas A&M football team was playing for in its final two games of the season, specifically in the finale against LSU on Saturday, Nov. 26.

“Hopefully we can, and I don’t know if this is bad, but piss in their corn flakes,” Preston said.

Indeed, the Aggies don’t have much else to play for, now that a bowl game is off the table. Sitting at 4-7 after picking up their first win in nearly two months against Massachusetts, the players and coaches have their sights set on ending the year on a high note while proving themselves as competitors. 

“[We’re] playing for each other and Texas A&M,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You’ve got Texas A&M on your jersey and you play for your teammates, and you play for yourself because you’re sending a message of who you are and what you are.”

While there may not be much good to find in a 5-7 campaign in which it was the sixth-ranked team in the preseason AP Top 25, A&M’s season may feel a bit sweeter to some if the Aggies can take down the Tigers and put the nail in the coffin of their College Football Playoff hopes.

The purple and gold’s year has taken a far different trajectory than the maroon and white’s, as LSU enters the final game of the regular season with a 9-2 record and a 6-1 mark in conference play. On Saturday, Dec. 3, the Tigers, ranked No. 6 in this week’s AP poll, will face Georgia in the SEC Championship, but even a win may be insignificant if they fall to A&M the week before.

Our friends from Baton Rouge, La. are competing with at least six other schools for one of four playoff spots, and as the only school with two regular season losses, the margin for error is slim to none. 

Some Aggies will enter the matchup with fire in their bellies, given A&M’s recent history with LSU. The Tigers boast a 9-2 record over the Aggies since 2011, with A&M’s lone wins coming in the form of 2018’s 74-72, seven-overtime thriller and a sloppy 20-7 win in 2020. Last season, LSU upset the then-No. 14 Aggies, 27-24, with a last-minute touchdown thrown by none other than junior quarterback Max Johnson, who started three games for A&M this year before going down with a hand injury.

A victory over the Tigers may also serve as a more satisfying way to cap off the season, given the circumstances of the Aggies’ “win” over the Minutemen. The Aggies defeated Massachusetts, 20-3, and while the defense was impressive, the offense felt just as miserable as the fans. Taking on arguably the worst Football Bowl Subdivision team in the nation, A&M was forced to deal with rainy, 40-degree weather in front of next to nobody. Don’t let the announced attendance of 90,177, the smallest crowd at Kyle Field since 2014, fool you — this one felt like a middle school game. 

“We’re all disappointed, [we’re] not where we want to be,” Fisher said. “But they will be packed out of here next week, I think, for the things that go on, and we play LSU. I’m sure they’ll be here.”

The Tigers also took on a nonconference opponent last week, triumphing over 5-6 UAB, 41-10. Junior signal-caller Jayden Daniels continued his dominant season, throwing for 297 yards and a touchdown while racking up 111 yards on the ground with a touchdown. He was complemented by junior running back Noah Cain, who tallied 76 yards and three touchdowns, and sophomore wide receiver Malik Nabers, with 129 yards on seven catches.

“[Daniels] is a really good player that has made a lot of big plays for them in critical moments,” Fisher said.

Speaking of offense, a couple unknowns remain for the Aggies in the unit, as junior running back Devon Achane and freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart missed the past game with injuries. The latter suffered a hit to the head against Auburn on Nov. 12, while Achane was out for A&M’s contest with the Tigers with a banged up leg. On Monday, though, Fisher did say he was very optimistic about the duo returning to play.

Regardless of the questions surrounding the Aggies, LSU coach Brian Kelly spoke from experience about going up against a Fisher-led team. The duo has met twice as head coaches, the first meeting coming in 2011 when Fisher’s Florida State Seminoles eked out an 18-14 win over Kelly’s Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Champs Sports Bowl. They met again in 2018, when the No. 2 Seminoles took down the No. 5 Irish, 31-27.

“The calling card has always been outstanding offenses, the ability to play aggressive defense and just good football teams,”  coach Brian Kelly said. “They’ve always been great games, and I look forward to another great matchup again.”

Fisher and the Aggies know that, win or lose on Saturday, their fate is sealed. There’s no bowl game to be had, and the team will instead spend the offseason evaluating where the program is at while searching for what went wrong during a season that began with high expectations but came crashing down to Earth. However, in major college football, players play to win games, which should be enough motivation. A&M will aim to do just that this weekend.

And, just maybe, they’ll piss in some corn flakes too.

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