GOOD MORNING. We asked you all the other day whether or not Texas A&M and Florida State should schedule some football games and the answer was a resounding and very scientific “YES!”. If someone could please forward this to the AD so they can get started, that’d be great. Thanks.
Texas A&M’s history with Florida State is like many people’s brushes with Florida: torrid, brief, and a completely one-sided awkward embarrassment. The ‘Noles lead the all-time series 4-0. Gene Stallings played a home-and-home with FSU in the ‘60s, where the Ags lost two games by a combined 7 points. They didn’t meet again until the 1992 Cotton Bowl, a punishing ordeal with the primitively evocative score of 10-2. It was SEC before SEC was SEC. Or something. Yes, it was definitely something.
Then there’s the game that’s still on the scoreboard. Buckle in, campers, Doc’s going to regale you all with old-person stories from THE NINETIES.
1997 was a fun season. Moderately tempered expectations after ’96’s shitfest, and the team finished red hot with a November sweep to get to nine wins and a berth in the second-ever Big 12 Championship Game. We don’t need to talk about what happened next. Then the Ags lost to UCLA in the Cotton Bowl and quite a bit more air came out of the tires. Most people still thought 1998 could be a very good year, but opening up against #2 FSU Seminoles in NEW JERSEY of all places was a tall order.
So it was wait-and-see, for the most part. This is what we saw: watch the whole dang thing if you want.
There’s a nice archived recap of the game here from a newspaper of the era. (People used to write newspapers, scan them as PDFs, print them out, and then pay college interns pennies on the hour to manually re-type the newspapers into an Internet layout as they were dictated aloud, it was crazy.) Florida State’s close-out of 1997 was a bit stronger. They ran the table, getting to 10-0 before losing by a FG to #10 Florida in the season finale. Aren’t those in-state non-conference rivalries stupid? Anyway, they then turned around and pummeled the new #10 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. This was a powerful program and the ‘90s mystique was still very much alive.
Watching Aggie Football games within that era was watching football in a suspended state: you were always perched on the precarious divide between elation and bitter disgust. Well, not all that different than today, really, except there was no Twitter so people actually paid attention to the football being played. The defenses were good enough to win any game on their own, provided the offense was just short of absolutely negative, harmful and awful. Think of the worst, most frustrating Spav offensive moments, multiply them by four, slow them down five times, and take away the mere pretense of even trying, and you’ve got an idea of the futility of those offenses. So to see the Aggies come out and hang with #2 and actually take the lead at halftime on a spectacular defensive scoring play, well, that was a delight on that weird August Monday. It was one of those losses that you didn’t feel 100% disgusted with afterward because of things you saw within the game. 2012 Florida had some of that same aura.
The Ags didn’t have enough juice to pull off the upset, but that performance was enough to give an identity to that ‘98 team. They won ten games in a row en route to a Big 12 title. Time for a kickoff redux: Aggie fans and ‘Nole fans in Jersey is a failsafe recipe for something good.