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

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

The Battalion

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Tigers, Thanksgiving game return to Kyle Field

Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION.
Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION.

After a two-year hiatus, the Thanksgiving Day game has returned.
Instead of the traditional matchup against the University of Texas, the Thanksgiving game Thursday at Kyle Field will feature a new but familiar foe — the LSU Tigers.
A&M and LSU have met 52 times, with the Tigers holding the edge in the series 29-20-3. The Aggies are on a three-game losing streak against the Bayou Bengals dating back to the 2011 Cotton Bowl, and their last win in the series came almost two decades ago in a 33-17 victory at Kyle Field.
The Aggies (7-4, 3-4 SEC) fell to Missouri 34-27 at home in their last outing and look to match last year’s regular season win total with a victory against the only SEC West team they have yet to defeat since joining the conference in 2012.
LSU (7-4, 3-4 SEC) comes off back-to-back losses against Alabama (20-13) and Arkansas (17-0), marking just the second time the Tigers have dropped consecutive games under head coach Les Miles. Since Miles took over in 2005, LSU is 25-2 following a loss and has not lost three games in a row since 1999.
“I think that this team is a young enough team that really wants to improve and is not really ready to put next year in the near vision,” Miles said. “It appears to me that this group wants to play well in this game. They’re not really ready to go on and I enjoy that focus. I think it’s a little easier to motivate them in certain ways.”
Despite their struggles, the Tigers average 204.5 rushing yards per game and rely on a trio of running backs led by freshman Leonard Fournette who has 745 yards on 157 carries and seven touchdowns. A New Orleans native, Fournette was rated the No. 1 recruit in the 2014 recruiting class by ESPN.
“They’ve had a couple injuries, but they’ve still got a three-headed monster back there,” defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “You see Fournette getting better each and every week. They were dinged up a little bit up front and Arkansas took advantage of that. We need to expect LSU’s best shot. Coach Miles is a great football coach. He will have his team ready to play, and we’re going to have to be ready to play as well.”
Louisiana boasted more NFL players per capita than any other state in the nation at the start of the 2014 season. The Aggies have eight players from the Pelican State on their roster, including highly coveted freshman Speedy Noil out of New Orleans, who leads A&M in all-purpose yards with 1,225.
“We’ve got a number of guys from Louisiana,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Basically they all play except for Noel Ellis, who had a medical problem this summer but played a little bit as a freshman. Deshazor Everett, Speedy Noil, Julien Obioha, Floyd Raven, Ivan Robinson, Shaan Washington, Donovan Wilson — all those guys play for us, so it’s important for us to be able to evaluate in Louisiana. Those guys came here and have had, or are having, success.”
Both teams enter the game in a similar position and have players on both sides who are familiar with each other.
“We have similar records,” Sumlin said. “They want to end their year on a positive note just like we do and put yourself in a decent bowl scenario. There are a lot of guys from a region of about 300 miles playing in this game. There will be a lot of families celebrating Thanksgiving at Kyle Field. Hopefully we’ll be able to celebrate after the game.”
Kickoff between the Aggies and Tigers is at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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