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THE TAILGATE: A Graphical Preview of Texas A&M vs. North Carolina State

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Sorry for the delay; the construction of this TAILGATE took 7 overtimes.


The Legend of TaxSlayer

There was a boy, born to peasants. He was a scrawny little twit. His blonde hair always appeared dark, caked in dirt from the fields where he helped his father. If he were a lucky boy, he’d farm, marry a girl from the village, make children who could help with the farm work, pass the land down to them and their families, and die asleep at the ripe old age of 45. The good old days, ya know? But this was no lucky boy, this was the chosen one. He who would destroy unfair charges or levies against citizens. The TaxSlayer.

You see, in his land, the king sent his guard down to the indentured farmers on his land to collect his fees. With no prior announcement, the levies to the king amounted to 30% higher than the previous year to afford the princess a magical wedding party, to which none of the serfdom was invited. The boy could not understand why the others accepted their fate, walking about like beaten dogs, doing whatever the king commanded. Just because of his giant reptilian guard.

The day before taxes were to be collected, the eve of the new year, the boy scaled the walls of the castle. After slipping past the initial guard, he defeated the royal guardsman by expertly parrying his broadsword and ending his life with a dagger to the eye. Only the 50’ long monster remained.

The boy grabbed a spear, kicked off the wall, and descended toward the monster in the king’s chamber. The spear impacted the gator’s skull with such force that the massive beast vaporized, covering the room in a slimy mist. The animal’s blood, however, was cursed by a witch, saying that whoever was stained with it would become the most generous person the world had ever known. Giving you not only the shirt off his back, but the skin as well. The king returned all the money and ordered a dinner where the now landowners would feast. At the king’s orders, he was served as the main course.

And this is why we pay tribute to the TaxSlayer and cursed gator on New Year's Eve.

Aggies - 35
Wolfpack - 17


CAST OF CHARACTERS

The Aggie offense had been missing a big-time receiver for about 11 games and 3 1/2 quarters until this dude went bonkers against LSU in OT. Keep the streak alive.

Let him run the dang ball. It's a very simple and straightforward request. Just give it a shot. What the hell. Clemson does it, so it must be acceptable.

Hey, no pressure, but the last time the Aggies played a football game in the state of Florida, #25 clinched the victory in The Swamp with a key interception late.

Ah, this player will have to step up and assume the mantle of leadership because the team leader in stats has decided to skip the bowl game to focus on going pro (no, we don't need your molten taeks in the comments).

Ah, this player will have to step up and assume the mantle of leadership because the team leader in stats has decided to skip the bowl game to focus on going pro (no, we don't need your molten taeks in the comments).

No worries here: the stout Aggie pass defense will surely be able to curtail this record-setting passer who ranks among the country's best in airing it out, despite our two most experienced defenders being injured, yep it's all going to be OK we promise.


MILLERTIME

Not to rain on anyone's New Year's Eve fandom parade, but can we stop acting like our bowl opponents are beneath us? When news broke that we'd be playing a 9-win ACC team in Florida on New Year's Eve, you'd have thunk the NCAA had forced us to vacate all wins since 1980 judging by the ire on Aggie Twitter.

Look, a short memory is great and all, but if consecutive bowl losses to Louisville, Kansas State and Wake Forest doesn't invoke a bit of humility within you, it might be time to reexamine your wiring, babe. This is a fine bowl game, folks. There are no shadowy conspiracies running deep in the bowels of ESPN's HQ to keep Aggie Football down. Christ, yes, beating LSU was a fantastic step for the program, but it doesn't erase the complete bed-shittings in Starkville and Auburn. We'll get to better bowl games, and it'll be soon. Jimbo knows how to do it. Let's worry more about stopping the staggering air attack led by Ryan Finley first, then maybe we can pine for richer rewards if we snag that elusive ninth win. Course, that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. Happy 2019, babe.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR

THE REPLACEMENTS

Aggies LB Otaro Alaka and S Donovan Wilson will be missing the game for injury reasons, while Wolfpackers LB Germaine Pratt and WR Kelvin Harmon are out for the-draft-is-more-important-than-my-teammates reasons. NC State has announced that they will be starting Luke Stanchion at linebacker, a tough, no-nonsense auto mechanic who trained by dead lifting axle assemblies. The Aggies will be starting Jon "Truck" Tucker, a former pro wrestler turned church deacon who still has trouble controlling his violent temper. At safety for A&M and wide receiver for NC State will be a pair of border collies, because there's nothing in the rule book that says they can't play and we recently taught them the hundred-dollar sit and handshake.

SOME POINTS

Because any score at all would be the most points the Aggies have ever scored in the Gator Bowl. In their only other invitation the good guys got blanked by Tennessee 3-0, a score that would violate the Geneva Convention by today's standards but in 1959 was considered "lewd, and lascivious". Neither of these defenses is likely up to the task of pitching a shutout, so look for A&M to set a school Gator Bowl points record.

JAX AND CHILL

Not to part the kimono too much, but in times of desperation for this segment I'll look up interesting trivia about the city we're playing in. In this case that means I just read ten pages of interesting factoids about Jacksonville that read like a mortician's tax returns. That's good news! The Gator Bowl is literally the only thing to give a shit about for hundreds of miles in every direction. Travel safe, yell loud, and try to only observe Florida Man from a distance and you'll be just fine probably I assume.


ELSEWHERE IN THE SEC

THE LIBERTY BOWL

MISSOURI VS. OKLAHOMA STATE


The holidays are tough, y'all. All you really want to do is sit at home in a dark room with a bottle of scotch and season 2 of Ozark. Instead, you have to go spend new year's eve with family and yeah you and your cousin used to be really close but you haven't them seen in 5 years and now you're tossing around the football and pretending like you have anything in common. Your cousin has a mullet now, and he's been yelling a lot about snowflakes and twitter and you just can't right now. You just can't.


HOTREELZ


ROI'd RAGE

Like any white collar job we don't pay by the hour and we expect you to work as much overtime as it takes. 74-72 is a hell of a thing without accounting for the fact that the Aggies beat LSU for the first time since current students have been alive. Then you go and land the #3 recruiting class in the country? Shit, son, we're higher than St. Peter on angel dust about you these days.

Here's the thing though, James. Can I call you James? Thing is, James, 'round these parts 8 wins'll get you a real nice letter of recommendation when we kick your keester out the door. Now how's about you head on down to Jacksonville and grab us that ninth win Santa forgot to drop off. Thanks, darlin'.

[slaps Head Football Coach Jimbo Fisher on the ass]


PLACE YOUR BETS


BEST CASE / BESTER CASE

BEST CASE

It's a New Year's bowl game. The absolute best case is a win and waking up without a hangover.

BESTER CASE

All of the above, and I get a cookie.