UT-A&M: Rivalry Weekend

By Glenn Tanner - May 18, 2007

The University of Texas sez hello:

Texas Fight, Texas Fight,
And it's goodbye to A&M

And so does Texas A&M:

Good-bye to texas university
So long to the Orange and the White
Good luck to dear old Texas Aggies
They are the boys that show the real old fight
"The eyes of Texas are upon you..."
That is the song they sing so well

You know you've got a great rivalry when each school mentions the other in its fight song.

Texas and Texas A&M have been playing each other for a looooooong time, and as you might expect from two bitter rivals, they can't even agree on how long they've been playing. The Longhorns boast a series record of 225-117-5 in their favor, and record the first meeting as occurring in April 1903 when the Longhorns traveled to College Station and came back with two wins.

The Aggies don't acknowledge the 1903 games and a few others, and claim the series record is 218-116-5.

Texas swept three games from a bad A&M team last season, but this year is a whole 'nother story.

Rob Childress' first year as A&M head man was a rough one. The 2006 Aggies started the season 10-0, but absolutely cratered and won only 15 of their final 46 games. The Big 12 was especially brutal, as A&M was winless on the road and ended up dead last with a 6-20 record.

This year's team, however, is riding high at 41-12, and with a #6 RPI ranking, is perhaps playing for a national seed this weekend.

There's no doubt who the Ags' MVP is. It's tonight's starting pitcher, Kyle Nicholson (11-1, 1.74 ERA in 103.2 innings). The senior sinkerballer started the season as the A&M relief ace, but Childress has moved him to the starting rotation to save his arm after a couple of 140-pitch weekends in relief. That does leave A&M without a dependable closer, and they've paid for that several times over the last month.

Offensively, A&M is all about speed. Their 123 stolen bases (in 153 attempts) rank 5th in the nation, and five players have reached double digits in steals. Blake Stouffer has been their most productive offensive threat. Stouffer (who has played first, third, and outfield) is batting .394, slugging .624, has stolen 18 bases, and ranks 4th in the NCAA with 70 ribbies.

A&M stats

Texas (39-14) has a little offensive firepower as well. CSTV Player of the Year favorite Kyle Russell leads the Longhorns. The big red-head leads the nation with 26 homers, and his .877 slugging percentage is threatening the UT single-season record (.878 in 1949) and will surely eclipse the highest recorded since the Horns moved to spacious Disch-Falk Field (.743). Russell gets help all through the lineup, however, as the team slugging percentage of .505 is also threatening the UT record (.508 in 1974).

The bats have overshadowed the Texas pitching, which, as usual, has been very good. The Longhorn hurlers lead the Big 12 with a 3.39 ERA (3.29 in conference play.) James Russell (8-3, 3.53 ERA in 89.1 innings) takes the ball tonight. He's the son of former major league closer Jeff Russell, and maybe that's where he picked up a change-up that Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson says is major-league quality. Russell's only real problem this season has been the gopher ball -- he has allowed a team-high 11 homers.

Texas stats

We'll have a packed, boisterous crowd here at Olsen Field. First pitch at 6:30. Back in a few innings with updates, or when action warrants...

Posted by Glenn Tanner at 06:54 PM on May 18, 2007

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