Officially, the Thanksgiving holiday is one in which we gather as a family and give thanks for the things that we have in life. Unofficially it’s a time where friends and family gather to watch what they consider to be the most important football game of the year.
Colleges across the nation have been kind enough to give fans something special while they are home for the holiday–a football game against the team’s most hated rival. Why they are the rival does not matter. The exact reason it all started is likely forgotten, but it does not stop people from despising people simply because they like or support the “other” school.
It’s the one game of the season that a team must win. Should they lose every other contest, but win this one, the season is deemed a success. For over a century that game in the football crazy state of Texas was the annual tilt between the Longhorns of the University of Texas and the Aggies from Texas A&M.
This coming Turkey Day will not see the two traditional opponents face off in what would have been the 119th meeting of the two teams. The reason for it is simple, but depending on whom you ask you’ll get a different response.
A Texas fan will say it’s because the Aggies departed the Big 12 for the SEC, and since their non-conference schedule was already full they could not fit the Aggies in. Fans of Texas A&M will say it is out of spite since the Aggies were not willing to sit idly by while the Longhorns gained a tremendous advantage over the rest of the conference with the creation of the Longhorn Network.
Whatever the reason, the fact is that the game that fans of both schools look forward to every year is gone.
As far as some within the Aggies Nation are concerned the school has simply moved on to bigger and better things. With a 7-2 record going into Saturday’s contest with No. 1 Alabama it would not be hard for an argument to be made to that effect.
Texas does not seem to be none the worse for wear either. In place of the Aggies this Thanksgiving they will be playing another in-state rival, the TCU Horned Frogs. The first time the two met was back in 1897, and since then they have played 82 times with Texas winning the last one in 2007 by the score of 13-34.
However, the fans on the other hand, are left wanting.
This rivalry did everything that a football fan wanted a rivalry to do. Records were of no consequence; teams found a way to dig deep and play to a level not seen up to that point in the season.
The other team was all too happy to mess up the other’s season. Since 1936 there have been 59 games where one or both teams were ranked. In 11 of them it was the team that was not ranked or ranked lower that won.
After the No. 7 Longhorns lost to the No.24 Aggies 20-16 in 1999 Texas went on to lose the Big 12 title game and the Cotton Bowl to finish the season No. 21 and No. 23 in the polls. In the 2006 and ’07 editions the non-ranked Aggies pulled out victories over what were top 15 teams (No. 11 and 14 respectively).
The Longhorn have played spoiler for the Aggies as well. Last season was supposed to the swan song for the Aggies; a chance to ride off into the sunset as the final victor in the rivalry. Like it had much of the season, the Aggies offense all but disappeared in the second half as the Longhorns outscored the Aggies 20-9 to pull out a 27-25 win.
As for a favorite game, that would be something practically impossible to choose. There are several that stick out as memorable contests, but the real pull was not the game, but what the game did. Watching it meant so much to people that it would be the one thing in a busy holiday season that they would drop everything for in order to watch.
It brought family and friends together, and while there are still games being played it just is not the same.