October 8, 2011

The Nickel: The top five storylines

Texas Tech (4-0) and No. 24 Texas A&M (2-2) meet on the gridiron tonight for what could be the last time in ages.

Here are the top five storylines entering today's historic football game which begins at 6 p.m. at Jones AT&T Stadium and will be broadcast on FX:

The final meeting?

Most experts from both schools believe tonight's football game will be the last one between Tech and Texas A&M for a very long time.

The Aggies are moving to the SEC and quite frankly they look like a team in over their heads. Texas A&M has historically struggled against SEC teams since the inception of the Big 12 in 1996 and fell apart against Arkansas just last week.

At least in the early years expect Texas A&M to schedule weaker teams than Texas Tech in the regular season, especially if the Aggies want to keep their rivalry going with Texas.

Savor tonight because a 70-game rivalry is going extinct.

Can Tech start faster?

Tech has trailed at halftime against all three opponents its played this year with a pulse. That's not going to cut it if Tech, a minor underdog, wants to send the Aggies packing with a loss.

To win tonight's game, the Red Raiders are going to have to play nearly flawless football in all three facets of the game from start to finish.

It may be easier to catch stride this week with what will probably be the most excited crowd of the year. If the Red Raiders can't get going early tonight it's probably not going to happen all season.

When Tech finally does appear to get into a rhythm the squad is one of the most explosive in the game.

Is this the week Texas A&M finally closes out an opponent?

Just like Tech's issue to start a game with some intensity and excitement, Texas A&M can't finish off BCS opponents. The Aggies have blown back-to-back games in the past two weeks.

Even if the Red Raiders start slow tonight, there's potential for Texas A&M to let them back in the game with some sloppy defensive play and an offense that sputters with the game on the line.

If Texas A&M drops a third consecutive game at all, but especially in the same fashion it has for the past two weeks, tonight's game could be remembered as the one that broke the camel's back.

Can Texas A&M outmuscle Tech with is running game?

When you have guys in your team like Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray on your team and a pretty good offensive line overall, you should be winning ballgames.

On paper, it seems Texas A&M has a big advantage against Tech -- a defense that ranks 117th in containing the run.

However, the Red Raiders get defensive Scott Smith off of suspension for today's game and he has been a dominant force in the past. He should be able to disrupt the run at least a little.

Additionally, linebacker Blake Dees is supposed to be healthy after struggling through an injury in the Kansas game.

If Tech can disrupt the Texas A&M running game it will greatly level the playing field in tonight's game.

Can Tech exploit Texas A&M's pass defense?

Texas A&M's pass defense is among the worst in the FBS subdivision. It averages 336.8 yards against it per game.

The Aggies are especially susceptible in the middle of the field. Expect at least one receiver in the group of Austin Zouzalik, Bradley Marquez, Cornelius Douglas and tight ends Jace Amaro and Adam James to have a breakout performance.

If quarterback Seth Doege can effectively get the ball to his receivers, Tech is well on its way toward a minor upset.

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