COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — When Texas A&M entered the Southeastern Conference in 2012 and its almost 100-year series against Texas ended, it looked as if the Aggies’ matchup with LSU might become a big rivalry.
Not so much so far. LSU has dominated since then, winning all six meetings with Texas A&M.
“Usually a rivalry goes when both teams win, so we need to pick up our part of it. … Us getting on the winning track would make it a rivalry,” Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher said. “You’ve got to have someone beat you on the other side to do it, so we’ve got our work cut out for us there.”
The Tigers (9-2, 5-2, No. 7 in CFP) need another victory over Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3) to reach 10 regular-season wins for the first time since 2012 and likely earn a berth in a New Year’s Day bowl.
“I want our guys to be motivated to know that they can go 10-2, go to a big bowl, (finish) 11-2,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “And I want the guys, the seniors and the juniors that are leaving that their leadership provided this for the football team and it’s a building block for things to come.”
LSU tight end Foster Moreau said the importance of winning on Saturday can’t be overstated.
“It would mean the world to this team and this program to be able to get back into the double-digit win column,” he said. “And we’re looking forward to trying our best to do that.”
The Tigers have improved in their second full season under Orgeron, beginning the weekend ranked No. 8 in The Associated Press poll. Their two losses were against Florida and top-ranked Alabama, and Orgeron often reminds his team he believes it should have beaten the Gators.
“We let that thing slip away … those games are critical, every game is critical, this is a critical football game for us,” Orgeron said. “We’ve going on the road and won and we have gone on the road and not played very well. I think it’s going to be the attitude that we take this week of guys are looking forward to finishing the season strong, not looking forward to finishing the season.”
The Aggies have won two in a row after dropping their previous two. They need a victory on Saturday to reach five conference wins for the first time since the Johnny Manziel-led team went 6-2 in 2012.
Some things to know about LSU’s trip to Texas A&M:
Orgeron knows his team can’t be too pass-heavy against Texas A&M. It won’t be easy though, with the Aggies ranked second in the nation by allowing just 82.8 yards rushing a game.
“We have to find a way to run the football,” Orgeron said. “We just can’t drop back and throw it. That’s not what we do. Obviously, the play-action pass, the protection, is going to have to be excellent.”
While the Tigers try to get their running game going, they know another key to Saturday’s game will be slowing a Texas A&M running game led by Trayveon Williams that is averaging 201.1 yards a game.
Williams ranks third in the nation with a career-high 1,326 yards rushing. The junior, who is tied for first in the SEC with 13 rushing touchdowns, has piled up 3,181 yards rushing in his career.
“They play physical,” Orgeron said. “They come to hit you. To lead the league in rushing is means you’re tough. And they run the football. They’re tough running the football.”
Texas A&M is looking for a stronger performance from its secondary after UAB passed for more than 300 yards in the Aggies’ 41-20 win last week.
“You’re going to have to mix looks up and try to confuse the quarterback as much as you can,” Fisher said. “And the times when you’re in those one-on-one battles you’ve got to lock down and be physical. You’re going to have to make plays.”
Fisher was an assistant at LSU from 2000-06 and helped the Tigers to a national title in 2003. Fisher has fond memories of his time there and both of his sons were born in Baton Rouge. He was rumored to be a candidate for the job after Les Miles was fired in 2016, but Fisher said: “We never really got to official talks. It never got to the official people.”
He added that he loved his time with the team.
“It was a great place,” he said. “Had great success there. Won a lot of games there, won a national championship, some SEC titles, coached a lot of great players. So it was fun.”
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