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Completely Unpredictable: Aggie Football 2017 walks a fine line between despair and relief

There is no sense to make sense of.

NCAA Football: UL Lafayette at Texas A&M Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

From Wikipedia, on the painter Hieronymus Bosch:

His pessimistic and fantastical style cast a wide influence on northern art of the 16th century...His paintings have been difficult to translate from a modern point of view;...Today he is seen as a hugely individualistic painter with deep insight into humanity's desires and deepest fears.

That’s...putting it kindly. Like saying today’s effort was a good football game. Bosch’s paintings are a terrifying glimpse into a tormented mind filled with almost too much angst and darkness to even contemplate. The Aggie Football fan experience, circa 2017.

'El Bosco' 5th Centenary Anniversary Exhibition
Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Watching Aggie Football this year is being inside a Bosch painting. It is a constant barrage of crushing blows that defy reason, logic, or even statistical probability interspersed with bewildering, unexpected highs. There is little sense of any pattern to it: on the surface it seems like extreme back-and-forth action, but dig deeper and you merely discover that it’s a case of extremely shitty and slightly-less-shitty that occasionally makes our team look competent by comparison. We can comprehend precious little, rationalize even less, and controlling any of it is completely out of the question.

The posture and mindset of the team seems to forever totter on the edge of a long, dull knife that’s slowly carving into our collective psyche. On one side is the precipice into chaotic ineptitude that we saw for much of the second half against UCLA, well throughout the Nicholls game, and in heavy doses through the first half of the ULaLa outing. On the other is just general chaos, which, by chance, should occasionally favor us.

And it does, just not in the proportions that seem fair. It’s not an even 50/50 split of chance for either side because of the many burdening factors this Aggie team drags into each play: things are overcomplicated, underexecuted, confusing, jumbled, and in general, just plain BAD all around. The few bright spots; the long completions, the forced turnovers, are almost always immediately negated soon afterward. Momentum often even restored in the other direction by the opposing team if everything doesn’t go perfectly for the Aggies. The dull knife then cuts deeper into the collective psyche, and the players are just slightly less prepared on the following play. It’s an erosive, corrosive cycle that eventually drags us all down into this descent of despair.

But then just when you are ready for the dark pit at the bottom of the first half to engulf you, a bunch of good things fall into place. Turnovers. The run game actually begins to function. Players gain confidence, and the crowd feeds off of it. The third quarter was a complete inverse to the first half of this game, but we can’t help but harbor that gnawing fear in the back of our minds that it’s all about to come collapsing down at any moment. That the first sign of adversity will plummet us down a dark and screaming tunnel of brimstone and terror. Today, somehow it didn’t.

If you watched this game calmly while seated without fidgeting or pacing or any other distraction, we envy your strength of mind. The energy given off by this team, even through television, is jittery and rattling, like coming off a sleepless bender on too much caffeine. Beaked out on stimulants and too tired to be calm. ULaLa had been giving up north of 380 yards per game on the ground through two games against Tulsa and FCS Southeast Louisiana. Texas A&M had -22 in the first half. Those two facts don’t even seem to exist on the same plane of reality, like errant and dying creatures scrabbling parallel to each other in a Bosch drawing, trailing entrails and blood upon a scorched, crater-pocked land as a shotgun snap sails over a distant range of erupting volcanoes.

The painting will continue throughout this season, and the canvas is far larger than any of us care to calculate at this point. All we can do is marvel at the sheer overwhelming madness of it and hope this garish paintbrush of fate has mercy on us.