Location: Nissan Stadium (69,143) Nashville, TN
Surface: Natural Grass (Bermuda)
Forecast: 48 degrees, Partly Cloudy with 5% chance of rain
Game Time: 7:00 p.m. EST, 6:00 CST, 12-30-2015
Line: Louisville -4.5
TV: ESPN (Tom Hart, Andre Ware, and Laura Rutledge)
Radio: Cardinal Football Radio Network (Paul Rogers, Craig Swabek, and Doug Ormay) XM 129
Series History: A&M leads 3-0
Last Time: Texas A&M 26, Louisville 10 (11-12-1994 in Louisville)
There are a lot of stat breakdowns below and what’s weird is that a Kevin Sumlin vs. Bobby Petrino bowl game might very well be defensive dominated…….but you know that these guys are going to score points. Texas A&M has had some turmoil at the QB spot, but they have a fantastic defensive team, running back, and punt returner. Louisville has had time to prepare and develop a young team that never really had a chance to regroup during the season but still managed to win 7 of their last 9 games.
A&M’s passing defense forces teams to run the football vs. the Aggies….and their run defense isn’t great. The Aggies rush the passer so well that it’s something that I expect Louisville to attempt to take away from A&M with the running attack. Expect to see a lot of Lamar Jackson and Brandon Radcliff (maybe even Traveon Samuel) early in the game to try and establish a running game early on.
Louisville will be challenged to stop the run and put the onus on A&M’s new QB Jake Hubenak to win the game. That’s going to be easier said than done as Tra Carson is a BEAST of a downhill runner. The Cards may also avoid punting to Christian Kirk so as to avoid another Devin Hester situation.
Ultimately I think the Louisville Defense is just too much for Hubenak and the Cards are able to run the ball effectively enough to win the ball game.
Louisville 24 – Texas A&M 13
|Strength of Schedule||45th||33rd|
|Scoring Offense (ppg)||28.8 (66th)||28.3 (69th)|
|Total Offense (ypg)||406.3 (61st)||423.0 (48th)|
|Passing Offense (ypg)||246.6 (44th)||251.3 (40th)|
|Rushing Offense (ypg)||159.67 (81st)||171.67 (65th)|
|Scoring Defense (ppg)||24.3 (48th)||21.6 (28th)|
|Total Defense (ypg)||323.4 (13th)||367.2 (42nd)|
|Passing Defense (ypg)||204.7 (40th)||161.3 (4th)|
|Rushing Defense (ypg)||118.75 (15th)||205.92 (104th)|
|Punt Returns (ypr)||6.04 (92nd)||19.68 (1st)|
|Kickoff Returns (ypr)||20.50 (79th)||19.84 (90th)|
|Opponent Punt Returns (ypr)||4.75 (26th)||10.11 (90th)|
|Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr)||23.05 (99th)||19.19 (27th)|
|Punting (ypp)||39.59 (96th)||47.82 (1st)|
|Field Goal %||75.0 (56th)||73.3 (64th)|
|Opponent Field Goal %||72.2% (57th)||82.6% (105th)|
|First Downs (per game)||20.9 (61st)||22.3 (41st)|
|Opponent First Downs (per game)||16.8 (11th)||18.8 (36th)|
|Penalties (ypg)||60.3 (90th)||52.3 (55th)|
|Turnover Margin (season)||-3 (88th)||-4 (94th)|
|Time of Possession||29:30.58 (74th)||27:59.17 (103rd)|
|Sacks (per game)||2.75 (21st)||2.75 (21st)|
|Sacks Allowed (per game)||3.58 (126th)||2.67 (99th)|
|Tackles for Loss (per game)||7.5 (15th)||8.58 (3rd)|
|Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game)||7.42 (114th)||5.75 (55th)|
|Interceptions (season)||16 (14th)||11 (59th)|
|Passes Defended (per game)||4.58 (48th)||4.67 (46th)|
|Fumbles Recovered (season)||7 (85th)||8 (60th)|
|Fumbles Forced (season)||13 (25th)||16 (7th)|
|Fumbles Lost (season)||12 (106th)||8 (56th)|
|Kicks/Punts Blocked (season)||N/A||2 (43rd)|
|3rd Down Conversions (%)||38.55% (74th)||43.16% (34th)|
|Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%)||35.52% (40th)||32.97% (18th)|
|4th Down Conversions (%)||58.33% (40th)||33.33% (115th)|
|Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%)||50.00% (61st)||25.00% (6th)|
|Red Zone Conversions (%)||81.82% (78th)||78.43% (98th)|
|Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%)||83.87% (69th)||81.82% (52nd)|
|RedZone TD Conversions (%)||56.36% (89th)||54.90% (97th)|
|Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%)||54.84% (41st)||40.91% (7th)|
|Kickoffs (ypk)||62.73 (36th)||62.56 (39th)|
|Plays||828 (91st)||900 (41st)|
|Yards Per Play||5.89 (47th)||5.64 (63rd)|
Louisville Offense vs. Texas A&M Defense
Louisville Total Offense
The Cardinal Offense played some outstanding defenses in 2015 and was able to gain at least 87% of the Average Allowed against each opponent. Overall the Cards gained 31 yards OVER or 109% of its opponents average yards allowed. The best performance was against the best defense against Boston College when UofL gained 143% of what BC allowed for the season.
The Aggies are the 7th best defense Louisville will play this season and with Texas A&M allowing 367.2 yards per game we can expect that UofL will gain roughly 399-401 yards.
|Total Defense||Louisville Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
Texas A&M Total Defense
The A&M Defense did a fantastic job in many of its games of limiting opposing offenses. Its best performance was of course against Vanderbilt when the Aggies allowed just 45% of what the Commodores gained during the season.
Louisville is the 6th best offense the Aggies will play in 2015 and with their usual performances UofL should gain 372-373 yards.
|Total Offense||Texas A&M Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||456.8||457||0.2||100.04%|
|Miss St -W||451.4||406||-45.4||89.94%|
|Alabama – L||422.5||396||-26.5||93.73%|
|Ole Miss – L||514.8||471||-43.8||91.49%|
|South Carolina -W||362.2||445||82.8||122.86%|
Louisville Scoring Offense
When it comes to scoring the Cards were much improved in the 2nd half of the season. On the whole UofL scored about 3.4 points more than its opponents allowed on the year or 114.5%.
Texas A&M is the 5th best scoring defensive team Louisville will play in 2015 and with their 21.6 scoring allowed average combined with Louisville’s performance we can guess that the Cards will score about 23-25 points vs. the Aggies.
|Scoring Defense||Louisville Scored vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Scored of Avg|
Texas A&M Scoring Defense
The Aggies did a great job of limiting scoring in 2015 with just 3 teams exceeding their average scoring performance vs. A&M. Louisville is the 7th best scoring team A&M will face this year.
A&M on the year limited its opponents to 6.68 points under their average or just 76.54% of what teams typically scored. With the Cards scoring 28.8 points per game on the year we can expect UofL to score right at 22 points vs. the Aggies.
|Scoring Offense||Texas A&M Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Scored of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||35.2||21||-14.2||59.66%|
|Miss St -W||33.0||17||-16||51.52%|
|Alabama – L||34.1||41||6.9||120.23%|
|Ole Miss – L||40.0||23||-17||57.50%|
|South Carolina -W||21.9||28||6.1||127.85%|
Louisville Rushing Offense vs. A&M Rushing Defense
Louisville Rushing Performance
Louisville could not have been more up and down in its rushing performance during 2015. There was no trend of big rushing totals equaling wins or low rushing totals equaling losses. The Helter Skelter performance of the Cards really comes down to UofL not really having a solid identity throughout 2015 with the youth, changing QBs, changing styles, and really just not having a lot of understanding of what they were.
The crazy thing is that UofL actually ended up averaging just about what defenses allowed over the course of the season. Clemson shut the Cards down and UofL took itself out of the running game vs. Pitt by continually passing the ball.
Texas A&M is statistically the worst rushing defense Louisville will face this season and the metrics suggest that Louisville will gain 206-207 yards in Nashville…..which would be 5th most of the season (Cards are 4-1 when gaining 206+ in 2015).
|Rushing Defense||Louisville Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
Texas A&M Rushing Defense Performance
A&M struggled stopping the run in 2015, but consider the Aggies division. Bama, LSU, Auburn, Ole Miss, Miss St, Arkansas. The SEC West is a run oriented division and with two legit Heisman Trophy candidates (one winner). Still Alabama was #1 in the country in Rushing Defense and A&M was 108th. It wasn’t a good year stopping the run with 8 of 11 FBS opponents gaining OVER 190 yards on the ground.
Louisville is the 7th best rushing team the Aggies will face in 2015 but the Cards have put together some outstanding rushing performances….and some clunkers. With Lamar Jackson at QB the game to focus in on is Mississippi State with Dak Prescott at QB and a similar style and the Bulldogs gained almost 56 yards more than they average on the season.
The numbers suggest that A&M allows about 31 yards more than teams typically gain or 120% of their usual total. With UofL gaining 159.67 yards on average we can expect the Cards to gain 191 yards at Nissan Stadium which would be the 6th most on the season for UofL.
|Rushing Offense||Texas A&M Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||192.58||232||39.42||120.47%|
|Miss St -W||140.33||196||55.67||139.67%|
|Alabama – L||208.23||258||49.77||123.90%|
|Ole Miss – L||181.08||230||48.92||127.02%|
|South Carolina -W||154.67||253||98.33||163.57%|
Louisville’s Passing Performance
|Passing Defense||Louisville Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
Louisville comes into the Music City Bowl with the 44th Passing Offense in the nation at 246.6 yards per game after starting 3 different Quarterbacks during the 2015 season. For less than a half Reggie Bonnafon had the reigns, then Lamar Jackson, then Kyle Bolin, then Lamar Jackson, then Kyle Bolin…. now Lamar Jackson is the #1 again, perhaps for good.
It isn’t a bad thing to have options at QB particularly with the ability to attack different styles and strengths of individual defenses. But Louisville struggled getting consistent play with its signal callers. Just when it seemed that they’d figured it out with Lamar or Kyle a rough stretch or an injury would force a change. Additionally the Cards struggled to protect its quarterback which affected the offense overall.
Still, Louisville’s passing metrics were overall similar to what they were in 2014 and the Cards actually outpaced 7 of 11 FBS opponent’s passing averages. Louisville exceeded its opponents’ passing yardage allowed in losses to Clemson, Florida State & Pitt, but surprisingly UofL gained significantly lower passing yards than opponent’s allowed in WINS to NC State (rain) and Virginia.
Putting UofL’s performance against Texas A&M’s excellent 161.3 yards per game allowed through the air we can expect the Cards to throw for 188.12-193.15 yards vs. the Aggies.
Texas A&M Passing Defense Performance
|Passing Offense||Texas A&M Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||264.3||225||-39.3||85.13%|
|Miss St -W||311.1||210||-101.1||67.50%|
|Alabama – L||214.3||138||-76.3||64.40%|
|Ole Miss – L||333.7||241||-92.7||72.22%|
|South Carolina -W||207.5||192||-15.5||92.53%|
Texas A&M posted EXCELLENT passing defense numbers in 2015 which ended up being #4 in the nation at a stubborn 161.3 yards per game. It is important to remember the SEC West division: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, LSU are all very much run-predicated defenses. Still even with that the Aggies are very good against the pass and have held all but ONE team UNDER it’s average on the season.
We’ll take another look at the other side of this equation but Alabama, Ole Miss, Auburn, and LSU all RAN OVER the Aggies and their passing offense didn’t need to challenge A&M in order to win EASILY.
The Cards throw for 246.6 yards per game and with A&M limiting offenses to just 71.44% or 67.03 of their average we can reasonably expect Louisville to throw for 176.17-179.57.
Texas A&M Offense vs. Louisville Defense
Texas A&M Total Offense
Texas A&M performed consistently in the 1st half of the season and threw in some clunkers towards the finish. Overall though the Aggies gained about 14 yards more than defenses typically allowed on the season or 104%.
Louisville is the 2nd best defense (Bama is 1st) A&M will face in 2015 and the Aggies gained 58 yards over Bama’s average in a losing effort. Using the metrics available we can expect A&M to gain 337 yards in Nashville.
|Total Defense||Texas A&M Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||404.1||423||18.90||104.68%|
|Miss St -W||388.4||516||127.60||132.85%|
|Alabama – L||258.2||316||57.80||122.39%|
|Ole Miss – L||387.5||192||-195.50||49.55%|
|South Carolina -W||429.8||544||114.20||126.57%|
Louisville Total Defense
The Cardinal Defense limited 9 of 11 offenses to UNDER its season average (FSU & Pitt) but on the season the Cards reduced offenses to 53 yards less than the season average or just 85%.
Texas A&M is the 4th best offense the Cards will face in 2015 at 423.0 yards per game. Given the metrics we can expect A&M to gain 358-369 yards on the Cards.
It’s a significant departure from what we learned above so who wins this battle may determine the game.
|Total Offense||Louisville Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
Texas A&M Scoring Offense
The Aggies are always known for scoring points with Kevin Sumlin. A&M exceeded the points allowed by its opponents in 8 of 11 FBS games and scored 3.27 points more than opponents average or 112.25%.
Louisville is the 6th best Scoring Defense that A&M will face (a departure from the Total Defense) this season. The metrics suggest that A&M should score about 27 points in the Music City Bowl.
|Scoring Defense||Texas A&M Scored vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Scored of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||27.8||28||0.2||100.72%|
|Miss St -W||22.8||30||7.2||131.58%|
|Alabama – L||14.4||23||8.6||159.72%|
|Ole Miss – L||22.8||3||-19.8||13.16%|
|South Carolina -W||27.5||35||7.5||127.27%|
Louisville Scoring Defense
The Cards did a nice job of limiting yards, but not a great job of limiting points in 2015. 5 of 11 teams exceeded their points per game average vs. the Cards this season. But overall UofL ended up reducing teams to 2 fewer points per game than teams typically scored or just 95%.
Texas A&M is the 6th best scoring team UofL will face this season and we should expect the Aggies to put up 26-27 points in the bowl.
|Scoring Offense||Louisville Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Scored of Avg|
|Pitt – L||28.3||45||16.7||159.01%|
Texas A&M Rushing Performance
|Rushing Defense||Texas A&M Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Arkansas -W (OT)||119.58||65||-54.58||54.36%|
|Miss St -W||171.67||194||22.33||113.01%|
|Alabama – L||74.00||32||-42||43.24%|
|Ole Miss – L||132.42||58||-74.42||43.80%|
|South Carolina -W||217.42||321||103.58||147.64%|
Texas A&M running the ball in 2015 was basically whatever its opponent averaged after the season is calculated but did finish with 171.67 yards per game and was the #65 team in the nation running the ball. But the TRUTH is that the Aggies were very up & down while running the football this year. Mississippi State, South Carolina, Arizona State, Vanderbilt, Ball State, and Nevada all allowed A&M to be BALANCED on offense and all of those teams lost.
In its losses A&M averaged 86.25 yards per carry and the only outlier in that group was Auburn who DECIMATED the Texas A&M passing attack. Stopping the run seems like the best way to approach A&M and making them one dimensional. The Aggies came from behind to beat Arkansas in a wild one despite the Razorbacks allowing 358 yards through the air, Arkansas just limited the Aggies to just 65 yards on the ground.
Louisville will be the 2nd best (behind #1 Alabama) Rushing Defense Texas A&M will face in 2015. Arizona State is the only outlier in UofL’s category that struggled to contain the Aggies rushing attack: Bama #1, Louisville #14, Arkansas #16, Arizona State #19, LSU #24, and Ole Miss #27.
Based on Texas A&M season average the data suggests that A&M will run for 116.43-126.78 yards in the Music City Bowl. However, this is one area where I don’t think this data can be trusted given the up & down performances of A&M vs. Good Run Defenses/Bad Run Defenses and the huge swings that resulted from those match-ups.
Louisville Rushing Defense Performance
|Rushing Offense||Louisville Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
The Cards were the #14 rushing defense in the country for the season at 118.75 yards per game. Louisville limited 10 of 11 FBS teams UNDER its average rushing yardage gained during 2015 with only PITT going over its total. That’s strong…..but the chart also shows how well Houston, Clemson, Florida State, Auburn, and Pitt ran the ball during 2015…….AND MORE IMPORTANTLY how important it is for Louisville to limit rushing offenses in order to win. In its 7 wins no team gained more than 102 yards on the ground and all 5 of UofL’s losses teams gained 133+.
Texas A&M rushes for 171.67 yards per game and is the 7th best rushing offense UofL will face in 2015. How UofL controls the Aggies rushing attack will greatly affect the Cards’ ability to win the game. The stat average suggests that A&M will gain 113.15-116.39 yards in Nashville which is precisely in the middle of its WIN/LOSS (102/133) area. So this battle will be very interesting.
Texas A&M Passing Performance
|Passing Defense||Texas A&M Gained vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
|Miss St- W||216.8||322||105.2||148.52%|
Texas A&M comes into the Music City Bowl at the #40 Passing Team in the country at 251.3 yards per game. Kevin Sumlin is well-known for producing high quality passing teams: 2014 12th, 2013 7th, 2012 14th, 2011 1st (at Houston), 2010 5th, 2009 1st, 2008 2nd. So the man knows the passing game.
2015 was Sumlin’s worst performing passing team in recent memory but still managed to finish in the upper-third of the country. Texas A&M began with two of the worst passing Defenses in the country in Arizona State and Ball State and didn’t take advantage gaining just 80% of what those two teams would eventually allow on the season. Arkansas made A&M one dimensional forcing the Aggies into the air as did Alabama & Ole Miss.
Auburn & LSU really limited A&M’s passing game and teams really learned how to defend a Sumlin’s limited passing offense late in the year. On the whole Texas A&M earned about 10.3 more yards per game than the opponents allowed through the air or 107.86%. Based on Louisville’s passing D of 204.7 yards per game we can expect that A&M is going to throw for a range of 215-221 yards on December 30th.
Louisville Pass Defense Performance
|Passing Offense||Louisville Allowed vs.||Deviation from Avg.||% Gained of Avg|
Louisville will go to Nashville with the #40 Passing Defense in the country allowing 204.7 yards per game. The Cards limited 6 of its first 7 opponents to under their season average through the air, but only 1 of its final 4. The two largest deviations of the season were to Clemson when UofL held the Tigers to 89.5 fewer yards than their season average through the air, and Florida State when the Cards allowed 133 MORE yards than the Noles gained on average throughout the season.
The final result for the Cards was that teams averaged 1.936 more yards per game than they averaged or 100.65% of their average. A&M comes into the game throwing for 251.3 which provides us with a stat range of 252-253.
Texas A&M Football Traditions
There are a good number of college football programs/schools that have rich traditions, Texas A&M may take the cake of all the schools we’ve profiled so far. Being a Texas A&M Aggie is a way of life….it might even be a religion. The rules, programs, and traditions may take a lifetime to master fully. Here at TheCrunchZone.com we’ve had a few weeks to go through the many list of things that are unique about Texas A&M and its alumni/fans. I quite enjoyed researching Texas A&M culture and this research could have easily extended well beyond this writing. But here’s a quick look at what we found:
Texas A&M & Quick History
A&M has a HUGE enrollment of 64,373 of which 49,545 are undergraduates on its 5200 acre main campus. Located in College Station, TX and boasts and endowment of approximately $11.1 BILLION. TA&M is a top 20 research institution in the United States and is also a Senior Military College. A&M was founded in 1862 with admission to white males only, all of which were required to participate in the Corps of Cadets (more on that later). In 1963 women were admitted followed by African-Americans in 1965.
A&M also greatly contributed to the troop population in both World Wars. In the 1920s oil was discovered on university land. The school was able to negotiate to receive one-third of the revenue from the oil stake which allowed the school to continue to expand during the Great Depression. During the relief efforts Texas A&M was a haven for many refugees of New Orleans
Texas A&M is also one of the few land-grant, sea-grant, and space-grant universities nationwide.
Corps of Cadets
Military participation at A&M became voluntary in 1965, but throughout its history the Corp of Cadets are known as the “Keepers of the Spirit” and vigorously protect traditions at Texas A&M. The Corps of Cadets is the largest uniformed student body of any non-service academy institution and many become military officers. Being in the Corp does not obligate its membership to the military but a high number of Cadets do enter service. Many of the Traditions at Texas A&M revolve around the Corps of Cadets.
The 12th Man
As you know, 11 players are on the field for any given play during a football game. Aggie Football fans refer to themselves as the ’12th Man’ symbolizing their support and impact of their presence during the game. Texas A&M students stand for the entire game on their seat, the only exceptions are if a player is injured or when the band plays the ‘Aggie War Hymn’ or ‘The Spirit of Aggieland’.
The tradition of the “12th Man” began at the Dixie Classic (known today as ‘The Cotton Bowl’) on January 2, 1922 vs. Centre College (Danville, KY). A&M was the underdog and suffered so many injuries in the 1st half that Coach D.X. Bible summoned student E. King Gill from the stands, a current student who had left the football team to play basketball to suit up. Though he didn’t play, his readiness & willingness to participate symbolized the support all Aggies have for their team and has since fostered an environment of similar support for A&M fans everywhere. Texas A&M went on to beat Centre 22-14.
Former A&M coach Jackie Sherrill actually created a squad of football players in the 1980s made up entirely of walk-ons. Typically Sherrill’s ’12th Man’ squad was for kickoff coverage. R.C. Slocum altered the ’12th Man Squad’ after he took over for Sherrill in the 1990s. Slocum’s version allowed for one walk-on player to wear the #12 jersey and participate on Special Teams.
The University has vigorously defended its trademark of “The 12th Man” and were able to get the Buffalo Bills & the Chicago Bears to cease and desist. The Seattle Seahawks ignored their request and in 2006 an agreement was finally settled upon. The Seahawks had to play $100,000 initially and $5000 per season to use the term. The Seahawks are not permitted to sell merchandise with ‘The 12th Man’. The agreement ends this year.
12th Man Towel
Created in 1985 Aggie fans use a ’12th Man Towel’ to wave over their heads. Jackie Sherrill’s 12th Man unit actually used the original towel on the field which played heavily into its overall adoption.
A mugdown (noun) occurs after every scoring play for A&M. Mugging Down (verb) means that you kiss the date that you came with. So if you see thousands of Texas A&M fans making out after an Aggie TD, that’s just what they do….they are Mugging Down.
Reveille & Ol’ Sarge
The Aggie’s official mascot is a purebred rough collie named “Reveille”. The 1st Reveille was a mixed breed dog found on the side of the road in 1931. The current Reveille is Reveille IX and is considered a “Cadet General” wearing 5-stars (the highest ranking in the Corps) and cadets must address her as “Miss Reveille, ma’am”. Reveille is known as “The 1st Lady of Texas A&M”.
There are many traditions surrounding Reveille. She accompanies her handlers throughout campus. If she wishes to sleep on a cadet’s bed that cadet is required to sleep on the floor. If she barks in class, that session is cancelled. The sophomore Mascot Corporal that is selected to care for her is chosen each Spring Semester must bring Reveille with him everywhere, to class, out on dates, and home for the holidays.
Former Reveilles that have passed on have received full military funerals at Kyle Field, thousands attend. Reveilles are buried at the entrance to ‘The Zone” where they have a special scoreboard for the departed to keep track of the games.
Unofficially, “Ol’Sarge” is a mascot of the Aggies. “Ol’Sarge” appears only in graphics and is a tough looking drill sergeant.
The Aggie Ring
The Aggie Ring represents achievement by an A&M student/alumni. An Aggie Ring can only be ordered when an A&M student completes 90 hours (45 hours being from A&M directly). There have been very few changes to the ring design over the year and all are nearly identical. The last change to the ring came in 1963. The oldest Aggie ring comes from the class of 1889, but the design used (for the most part) today dates from the class of 1894.
Students wear the ring with the class year facing them to signal that their time at the university is not completed. At graduation, new graduates turn their rings around. There are a great many symbols within the ring, but displaying the Aggie Ring is the most visible way to identify a graduate of Texas A&M.
An unsanctioned tradition involves students ‘dunking’ their new rings in a pitcher of beer and that student chugging the entire pitcher catching the ring in his/her teeth. Many students choose to perform this ritual at the Dixie Chicken.
Texas A&M began as an all-male military school so there were no cheerleaders. Instead, A&M adopted the tradition of ‘Yell Leaders’. These guys have developed a series of hand signals, known as ‘pass backs’ that tell the student section which ‘Yell’ or cheer is coming for the student section to chant in unison. Once the signal is passed through the crowd the Leaders give the signal to ‘hump it’ where the crowd leans forward and places their hands on their knees to maximize the noise. There are traditionally 5 ‘Yell Leaders’ – 3 seniors and 2 juniors.
Starting in 1913 the corps would come together to practice the “Yells”. As a result A&M cheers are often quite overwhelming and specific due to their precision. Yell Leaders walk back and forth because one particularly famous Yell Leader “Peanut Owens” had feet that were too big to fit on the steps of the YMCA building where the corps would hold “Yell Practice”. He paced to keep his balance and other Yell Leaders adopted it.
The night before games (typically Fridays for Saturday games) Aggies gather in huge numbers at Kyle Field or a specified location for away/bowl games to practice yells. There are also jokes and insults about the opponent. Up to 50,000 people have shown up for the Midnight Yells for A&M home games.
Mugging Down at Midnight Yell
You can’t get your mugdown on at the A&M game if you don’t have a date. So A&M students who have struck out through the week eagerly await Midnight Yell. While there single Aggies bring a lighter and wait for the lights to go down at Kyle Field. Once dark the lighters are lit, known has ‘flicking your bic’ and pairs quickly begin to form.
“Whoop” is a word of approval for seniors and juniors at the end of a yell.
Following each yell students make a noise and a hand motion known as a wildcat. Each class has a separate wildcat: Freshman yell “A-A-A-A”, Sophomores push back on the seniors and yell ‘A-A-A-A-A’ while waving their hands up and down in front of the torso with their index fingers extended and thumbs perpendicular, Juniors yell “A-A-A-WHOOP!’ while wrapping their left hand over their right fist and both index fingers extended and pointing towards the ground, Seniors yell ‘A -WHOOP’ while interlocking their fingers with their index fingers extended and pointed into the air. At the same time, the left foot is raised and tucked behind the right knee. The fingers are interlocked rather than covering the right hand so that the Aggie Ring is visible.
Known simply as “Bonfire”, the burning of large quantities of wood during Thanksgiving weekend remains in place today, in an abbreviated version following a 1999 disaster. The Bonfire is essentially another Midnight Yell were speeches are made and yells are performed.
The 1st bonfire was built in 1907 and was small. In 1909 the tradition moved to campus, and was originally meant to celebrate the annual football game between Texas & Texas A&M. Aggies refer to the University of Texas as t.u. and amend their popular yell BTHO_ to “Burn the Hell Out of t.u” and “Build the Hell Out of Bonfire”. In 1935 a farmer reported than his entire barn had been deconstructed and carried off for fuel for the bonfire. The University then made the bonfire a school sponsored event and it gradually grew over time until it set a world record in 1969.
The University of Texas made several attempt to subvert the efforts of the bonfire by igniting it early. In 1933 & 1948 students from UT rented airplane and made the effort to drop firebombs onto the stack of wood. Both were unsuccessful. In ’48 the plane ran low on fuel and the wooden portions of the plane ended up as a part of the bonfire itself. In 1956 Longhorn fans attempted to plant explosives, and in 1970 a police officer attempt to set fire to the site several days ahead of time.
The 1999 Bonfire disaster occurred during construction when it collapsed killing 12 Aggies and injuring 27 others. Because of the deep tradition at A&M and the ‘Aggie Spirit’ felt within the Texas A&M family this was a very somber time for the school. 90,000 people showed up to silently burn candles at the site where the Bonfire was set to occur. 1999 was one of only two years that the Bonfire did not burn, with the other being in 1963 following the assassination of President Kennedy.
A memorial was constructed at the site of the 1999 accident (Polo Fields). A much smaller version continues today with each log touching the ground in a wedding cake design.
Replant is a student-run environmental service project to replenish the trees cut for the Bonfire. Hundreds of trees are planted each years by student volunteers at parks, schools and other public lands. All trees are donated by the National Tree Trust.
“Howdy” is the official greeting of Texas A&M University. Aggies feel that they are the friendliest university in the world and using this to greet visitors assures the school that no one on campus feels like a stranger. Students are encouraged to greet everyone on campus that they pass with a “Howdy” and a smile. It is also a way for a public speaker to gather the attention of a crowd and the crowd is expected to return the “Howdy” back in unison.
Gig ‘Em is the universal sign of approval for Aggies. It started at a Yell practice before a game vs. TCU in 1930 (The Horned Frogs). The sign is a fist with a thumb extended up, meaning that they were going frog hunting. Gig Em has extended throughout every day vernacular at A&M and can be applied as a sign of encouragement for other Aggies.
Century Tree is a unique, beautiful tree on the Texas A&M campus. Legend has it that if you walk under the tree with another person you’ll be with that person for the rest of your life. If you walk under Century Tree alone, you’ll be alone forever. Many Aggie proposals occur under Century Tree as any proposal beneath it will result in a marriage that lasts forever.
Aggies typically avoid the tree at all costs (because who can make life decisions like that strolling through campus?).
The Spirit of ’02
The Corps celebrates A&M Touchdowns by firing “The Spirit of ’02” which is a recovered 3-inch M1902 Field Gun. This edition was issued between World Wars and is believed to be hidden to avoid being scrapped during WWII. Students found “The Spirit of ’02” in a ditch while cutting wood for Bonfire in 1974. It has been fired to celebrate TDs since 1984.
Elephant Walk began in 1926 with seniors walking through campus single file with a hand on the shoulder of the person in front. Traditionally the walk was reserved for the week of the football game vs. Texas (they don’t play anymore), but now is the last regular season game of the season. The Elephant Walk symbolizes the end of seniors ‘usefulness’ to the 12th man and passes the torch to the junior class. Seniors in their last semester are known as ‘dead elephants’.
The Senior Class also announces the class gift at the Elephant Walk.
Pennies for Sully
“Pennies for Sully” is a tradition A&M students exercise during exams. Former president Lawrence Sullivan ‘Sul’ Ross would personally tutor students and would accept only a ‘penny for their thoughts’ as payment. For good luck, students place pennies around Ross’ statue in Academic Plaza. During exams his statue is covered in pennies.
It’s rare for A&M fans to ‘boo’ as it is strongly discouraged. Instead, angry Aggies will ‘hiss’ their opposition of officials. A exaggerated version of this is a ‘Horse Laugh’ which the Yell Leaders organize and ends with a stadium wide ‘hiss’.
Ran Out of Time
A&M culture dictates that if the Aggies were outscored in the football game, they ‘Ran out of time.” Because A&M never loses according to its fans.