Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher gets his first crack at SEC rival LSU when the Aggies host the No. 7 Tigers in the regular-season finale for both teams Saturday night.
The Tigers have won the last seven meetings, including all six since A&M joined the SEC. Fisher was hired away from Florida State last offseason to change stats like that.
“We have to win, to make it more of a rivalry,” Fisher told theEagle.com. “I think us getting on the winning track would make it a rivalry. You’ve got to have somebody beat you on the other side to do it.”
The Aggies (7-4, 4-3) seem to have an opportunity to end that streak against the Tigers (9-2, 5-2), who are considered underdogs.
“I don’t know nothing about favored or not favored,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “I’m glad that they’re favored. We do well as underdogs. I hope that puts a chip on our team’s shoulder. I won’t mention it. Us being a Top-10 team we got to play like it.
“Whether we beat them for many years, they beat us has nothing to do with this game and we all know that. But I think it’s extra motivation on both sides, obviously. They’re going to use that as motivation and we will too, obviously. I think this is a rivalry game, you can throw out all the rankings, you can throw out all the point spreads, it’s going to be about us taking care of the football.”
Orgeron pointed out that the Tigers lead the SEC with a turnover margin of plus-12 while the Aggies are minus-8.
But another statistic was concerning to him. A&M is allowing just 80 rushing yards per game, second fewest in the country.
“You hold opponents to 80 yards rushing in this conference and you’re first (in the SEC).” Orgeron said. “You’re doing a lot of good things. They’re very impressive on defense. We have to block up front. Their front’s very good.
“We’re going to have to run the football against a stout defense. We have to have an overall great game plan and just be balanced. We can’t be one or the other. We have to pick and choose our time where we go deep. Obviously, we’re going to have to hit some deep balls, spread the ball around. We just can’t drop back and throw it. That’s not what we do. But obviously the play-action pass, the protection is going to have to be excellent.”
In addition to stopping the run, the Aggies are really good at running the football themselves. Trayveon Williams, whom Orgeron called “probably the best back we have seen all year,” leads the SEC with 1,326 rushing yards and has rushed for 13 touchdowns.
“We’re second in the country against the rush and doing a great job with our front seven, and we’re able to run the ball on offense,” Fisher said. “Trayveon is leading the league in rushing. It’s going to be hard trudging this week, no doubt, but we’ve made a lot of strides in that area.”
The Aggies’ only loss at home was a 28-26 setback to No. 2 Clemson in the second game of the season, the undefeated Tigers’ biggest challenge to date.
LSU is 2-1 on the road and opened the season with a neutral-site win against Miami.
“We’re going to have to win the game in the trenches, do a great job, play in front of a hostile crowd,” Orgeron said. “We have done it on the road and we haven’t done it on the road, so this is a big challenge for us.”