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November 23, 2011

Great games between Texas A&M and Texas

AUSTIN — The Texas-Texas A&M rivalry has seen its share of great plays, bad teams, close calls and blowouts since the Longhorns won the first meeting 38-0 in 1894.

The annual conflict is set to end when the Longhorns and Aggies play Thanksgiving night in College Station, Texas. Texas A&M is leaving the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference next season and no future games with the Longhorns are scheduled. Texas A&M officials have said they are interested in keeping the game alive. Texas says its out-of-conference schedule is booked at least until 2018.

So if it really is the end of the rivalry — there seems little doubt that it will take at least a long break — here’s a look back at a handful of the greatest games in the rivalry’s storied history:

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—1920: Texas 7-3. Makes the list not for the thrilling action but because it launched the rivalry into what it would become. The game was first played on Thanksgiving two years earlier, but 1920 was a matchup of two powerhouse teams in front of an estimated crowd of 20,000, at that point the largest to watch a game in state history. Texas set up the winning touchdown with a reverse pass from Bill Berry to Tom Dennis, the only time the Longhorns used that play all season. On the next play, Texas Francis Dominguez ran in for the TD, the first points the Aggies had surrendered in two years.

—1956: Texas A&M 34-21. Texas had one of its worst teams in school history and this game stands out as one of the Aggies’ biggest wins over the Longhorns because it was their first in Texas’ Memorial Stadium. The Aggies’ John David Crow, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1957, scored a touchdown that helped finish off the Longhorns and coach Ed Price, who had already announced he would resign. Darrell Royal took over Texas the next year and the Longhorns won 17 of the next 18 meetings.

—1963: Texas 15-13: The undefeated Longhorns won their first national championship that season but struggled at muddy Kyle Field six days after President Kennedy was assassinated.  Texas trailed at halftime in the slop when UT Regent Frank Erwin put out a statement: “The condition of the playing field is a disgrace and a reflection on A&M. No university with a pretense at having a major athletic program would permit any condition to exist.” Texas A&M President Earl Rudder apologized but noted someone — surely a Longhorns fan — had burned the word Bevo into what grass was there, further damaging the field. Texas drove 80 yards for Duke Carlisle’s winning touchdown in the final two minutes and got some help when an apparent A&M interception was ruled out of bounds

—1998: Texas 26-24. The Longhorns’ Ricky Williams wrapped up the Heisman Trophy and the NCAA career rushing record with his 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on his way to 259 yards on the day. The Aggies, who had already clinched the Big 12 South championship, roared back from a 23-7 deficit to take the lead before the Longhorns got Kris Stockton’s winning field goal.

—1999: Texas A&M 20-16. Eight days after the collapse of Texas A&M’s traditional pregame bonfire that killed 12 people and injured dozens more, the teams finally took the field. Aggies players wore commemorative bonfire patches on their helmets. Texas led 16-6 by halftime behind freshman quarterback Chris Simms. But A&M rallied behind Ja’Mar Toombs’ career-high 126 yards rushing, and Randy McCown passed to Matt Bumgardner for the winning touchdown with 5 minutes left.

—2009: Texas 49-39. Texas was on a crash course for the national championship game but nearly got tripped up by A&M in College Station in a wild battle between quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Jerrod Johnson. The Longhorns’ McCoy passed for 304 yards with four touchdowns and ran for 175 yards with a 65-yard TD dash. Johnson nearly matched him with 342 yards passing and four touchdowns and another 97 yards rushing. Texas didn’t put the game away until freshman Marquise Goodwin’s 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown with 7 minutes to play.

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