COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Texas A&M Aggies will play on Thanksgiving for the first time since 2011 when they host LSU, hoping the game stokes a rivalry between the teams.
The Aggies faced their more than century-old rival Texas on the holiday for years in one of the most beloved football traditions in the state. That annual meeting ended in 2011 when Texas A&M left for the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
Now they'll play on Thanksgiving again with a team they figure is their most natural rival in their new conference.
"I was told when I came to school here that it was absolutely a rivalry game, and I understand that," LSU coach Les Miles said.
LSU has won the last three games in the series that dates to 1899. The Tigers are the only SEC West team A&M hasn't beaten since joining the league and the Aggies' last win in the series came in 1995.
"LSU is has been a team that we've been trying to beat since we've entered the SEC, so it's a replacement game," Texas A&M cornerback Deshazor Everett said. "We look at LSU as our new rivals now."
Coach Kevin Sumlin said playing on Thanksgiving brings back many good memories for Texas A&M fans eager to get a win on the holiday after falling to the Longhorns in the series' final game in 2011.
"I think it's a great honor," Sumlin said. "Somebody's got to play, why not us? And in a great venue in front of 100,000-plus at night. It's something to be excited about and proud of, and I know our guys are excited to be playing."
It's the first time the Tigers will play on Thanksgiving since 1983. But LSU is no stranger to playing on the holiday in its history, having played 25 times before with the first one coming in a 29-0 loss to Texas in 1899.
Texas A&M and LSU have met once before on Thanksgiving, playing to a 7-7 tie in Houston way back in 1913.
Some of the Tigers have mixed emotions about playing on Thanksgiving. Sumlin said that the game will likely be played on Friday next season when it's at LSU.
"Playing on Thanksgiving is a good deal, but it's a bad deal," LSU cornerback Tre'Davious White said. "You miss that home-cooked meal on Thanksgiving Day. When you come home Friday, there will be leftovers. That's not the same."
Some things to know about the LSU-Texas A&M game:
GOING FOR 15: The Tigers are a win away from reaching eight wins for the 15th-straight season, which is the longest active streak in college football and in school history.
WILL GARRETT PLAY?: Texas A&M freshman defensive end Myles Garrett missed A&M's game against Missouri with an undisclosed injury. Sumlin said he's doing better and he expects him to return on Thursday night. He broke former South Carolina star Jadeveon Clowney's SEC freshman sack record earlier this season and is second in the SEC with 11 sacks. He has 12 ½ tackles for losses, nine quarterback hurries and has 46 tackles.
ENDING THE SKID: LSU has lost two games in a row for just the second time under coach Les Miles. The Tigers have never lost three in a row in his 10 years as coach.
"We are not really desperate for a win," linebacker Deion Jones. "We don't like to lose and we have a bad taste in our mouths. We need a win to get that morale in the locker room back."
LOUISIANA TIGERS: The Aggies have eight players on the roster from Louisiana. It's the most of any state behind Texas. Everett, who is from DeRidder, Louisiana, is a senior who will play his last regular-season game for the Aggies on Thursday.
"It definitely adds to it for me," he said. "I really want to beat the team from my home state so I can go home with bragging rights."
REYNOLDS ROLLING: Texas A&M sophomore receiver Josh Reynolds has 746 yards receiving and leads the SEC with 12 receiving touchdowns, which ties a single-season school record. "What he's doing is pretty amazing, to come in his first year, a junior college kid, overlooked," offensive coordinator Jake Spavital said. "We got a steal out of that one ... he's a comfort zone for our quarterbacks because we know he's going to get open, we know where he's going to be and we know he'll make the play."