LSU trounced Texas A&M 50-7 last season in its march to the national title.
But this week as the Tigers prepared to visit the fifth-ranked Aggies, it wasn’t that game that they were thinking about, but rather what happened in their last trip to College Station.
That game was a 74-72 victory by Texas A&M (5-1) in seven overtimes that’s the Aggies’ only win over the Tigers (3-3) in the eight games since they joined the SEC in 2012. That epic contest tied the FBS record for most overtimes and set the mark for most combined points scored in an FBS game.
The game featured LSU coach Ed Orgeron getting doused prematurely with Gatorade after the Tigers appeared to have a clinching interception in the fourth quarter. But that play was reviewed and it was ruled that Kellen Mond’s knee was down before the throw, and he threw a TD pass on the last play of regulation to force overtime.
The Aggies won it when Mond threw a 2-point conversion throw in the seventh overtime after Joe Burrow’s 2-point conversion throw failed after LSU’s TD.
A reporter asked Orgeron about his team returning to College Station for the first time since that 2018 contest, which Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher dubbed the “craziest game ever.”
“You didn’t have to remind me,” Orgeron said.
When pressed, Orgeron admitted that has was taken back to that night when he was preparing for this year’s game.
“When I saw the film and I saw the stadium, some thoughts came by,” he said. “But ... it’s my job to be able to prevent problems this week, have a great practice and not allow those things to happen that happened to us last time. And we’re going to have to go and play our best game.”
This year’s game is a role reversal from that contest where the Tigers were ranked No. 8 and the Aggies were unranked. This time around, the Aggies are the ones in the top 10 and the Tigers enter the game unranked in what has been a tough follow-up to their perfect 2019 season.
Texas A&M has won four in a row since a loss at top-ranked Alabama and was fifth in the first installment of the College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday. The Aggies are eager to get back on the field on Saturday after missing two games because of a coronavirus outbreak.
“The guys are hungry. I think they want to play,” Fisher said. “I think they miss playing. So I don’t anticipate them not coming back full board.”
While the 2018 loss is on the mind of the Tigers, the Aggies are looking to atone for last season’s poor showing at LSU. But Fisher doesn’t view Saturday’s game as a chance for revenge for the Aggies.
“Any time you get beat, you want to go back and play and compete very well,” he said. “But I don’t ever like the word revenge. I think revenge clouds your thinking.”
Fisher brushed off question about whether LSU has become Texas A&M’s new rival, with the Aggies no longer playing long-time rival Texas since their move to the SEC from the Big 12. But the Tigers weren’t shy in talking about the subject.
Center Liam Shanahan is in his first year at LSU after a transfer from Harvard. But he’s been in Baton Rouge long enough to know all about the feelings between these two teams.
“This is a huge rivalry,” he said. “We don’t like them. They don’t like us. That’s something that’s been made pretty clear to me since I first got here. This is one of the games that’s kind of circled as a team that we don’t like. So ... this is a huge game for us and a big opportunity to get a big win.”
MORE MOND MILESTONES
Mond continues to reach milestones in his final year at Texas A&M. The senior already has set school records for completions (730), attempts (1,243), yards passing (8847), total offense (10,274) and TD passes (68).
He needs 153 yards passing and 74 yards rushing to become the third QB in SEC history to throw for 9,000 yards and rush for 1,500 yards in a career. One rushing touchdown would also make him the third quarterback in SEC history with at least 60 TD passes and 20 rushing scores, joining Dak Prescott and Johnny Manziel.
The LSU defense’s first season under coordinator Bo Pelini has been largely a failure. The Tigers entered this week ranked 112th nationally in total defense, allowing 478.6 yards per game. In a victory last week at Arkansas, the Tigers defended better against the run and largely contained dual-threat QB Felipe Franks when he sought to run. But Franks still connected on some big passes over the top.
Orgeron knows they’ll have to be better against the Aggies and a QB as accomplished as Mond in the passing game.
“I’m pleased with the way we played most of the game against Arkansas. I thought that we had our cleats in the grass. We had a great plan for the hurry-up offense,” Orgeron said. “But still not pleased with the deep balls, still not pleased with the rub routes. Still not pleased with the explosive plays, and definitely not pleased by the way we played most of the season. We need to improve to be a championship defense, and everybody knows that.”
AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report.