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Texas at Texas A&M Preview

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The regular season concludes on Friday with the annual matchup with Texas A&M. The Aggies have struggled quite a bit this year, starting in the opening game when they lost a heartbreaker to Clemson, 25-24. Since then it's been up-and-down for the Aggies, mostly down. They were blown out by Colorado, needed overtime to beat Baylor, and have now, coming in to this game, lost three in a row (Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma).

The main culprit for their struggles has been the defense, which ranks in the bottom third of the nation in... well, just about everything. The pass defense has been atrocious (104th in defensive pass efficiency) and the run defense has been mediocre.

On the offensive side of the football, the Aggies have been better, ranking 11th in rushing offense (230 yards per game) and 16th in total offense (447 yards per game). Considering the preseason hype surrounding Reggie McNeal, it's been quite a disappointment. McNeal ranks 53rd in the nation in passer rating at 128.3. I don't watch enough Aggie football to explain why he's struggled so much, but needless to say, he's been a big disappointment.

Meanwhile, the Longhorn offense continues to chug along. Outsiders marveled at Kansas' highly ranked defense two weeks ago and thought the Jayhawks might give the Horns some trouble. 40,000 yards later, at halftime, that fear was put to rest. Vince Young continues to dominate, while the running backs continue to rack up eye-popping numbers.

It's become a pick-your-poison offense this year. Load up to stop the run and you'll quickly be watching Billy Pittman trot in to the end zone on a touchdown catch. Try to stop the air attack and the running backs (and VY) immediately gallop for ridiculous yardage. There's no easy way to stop Texas, and the best bet anyone has of derailing the Horns will be to outscore them. It's the same with USC--you aren't going to beat them 13-10.

Did I mention that our defense ain't so bad, either? I'm impressed every single week by the Horns defense, save that miserable first half against Pokie State. Chizik has met every expectation Horns fans had when he arrived in Austin. The unit has been terrific.

It's a rivalry game, and it's on the road, and it's the last hope Coach Fran and the Aggs have of salvaging anything for this season, so I expect they'll be plenty hyped up to give us their best shot. Not that that's good enough. The only real question will be whether or not Vince Young has a flashy enough performance to close the gap on Reggie Bush in the Heisman race. Maybe, maybe not. It's not particularly important, and we won't lose any sleep if Bush wins the award; the guy is just unreal.

But so, too, is this Texas team. Just unreal. They're blowing out opponents like nobody else, including USC, and we expect that trend to continue again this week. The Horns head in to the Big 12 championship game undefeated after trouncing the Texas Aggs 55-17.
--PB--