The 12th Man is considered one of the more intimidating places to play, and they made a difference in the Texas A&M football win over LSU.
If you’ve never been to Kyle Field, it’s hard to describe how much different it is being there in person versus just watching the game on TV. That’s not unlike several other intimidating places to play in college football. But Texas A&M football has something no other stadium has: the 12th Man.
Each and every game, the entire student section (prob about 35,000 capacity) stands for the entirety of the game, save for a quick break at halftime before the Fightin Texas Aggie band comes out. We yell, in unison, making it as loud of an environment as it gets in college football.
However, that home field advantaged had weakened in the final years of Kevin Sumlin‘s tenure. They didn’t win an SEC West game at home for two entire seasons. Prior to the Ole Miss win, it had been since Mississippi State on October 3, 2015. They hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent at home since October 6, 2016 against Tennessee.
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That all changed when Jimbo Fisher came to town. The Clemson game started things off on the right foot. You could feel the electricity in the air. It was just different.
But last night was even more special. Gig ‘Em Gazette contributor Mary Catherine McCord was at the game last night and had some thoughts on the environment in Kyle Field.
"I’ve been to several of the best games in the last 15 or so years. I was there for 2010 Nebraska and 2010 Oklahoma. I sat through the 3 OT win against Fresno State in 2007 (that would be the Great 12th Man Migration game for those who don’t remember).I was there for the 2011 tu game and every Arkansas game from 2014 to present. This game was better than all of those. This was the most consistently loud I’ve heard the stadium in a long while, and it made a difference. Also, as loud as it was, there were times of near silence too, particularly in the later OTs with the Aggies on offense. Texas A&M is back, the intimidating 12th Man is back, and Kyle Field is back as one of the most intimidating places to play in college football.Being there for the LSU game was incredible. Surreal. Crazy. Being on the field for the War Hymn is an experience I’ll never forget. I had no idea we were setting history. My heart was racing from the overturned interception until Kendrick Rodgers’ final catch. As each overtime began I just kept thinking “surely this will end now.” My voice still hurts today."
You’d be hard pressed to find an Aggie in the stands who didn’t feel the same way as Mary. I watched the game from my home with envy. I was also at the Nebraska game in 2010 where we rushed the field and got to do the War Hymn. It’s an experience that causes some controversy with Old Army, as tradition dictates everyone isn’t allowed on the field like that, but we’re bucking those traditions.
Last night also feels like a change in the winds. Better things are to come. I also asked Mary her thoughts on this.
"Right now I’m still riding high on the fact that we pulled it out. This isn’t the type of game we usually win, which shows just how much Jimbo has done in less than 365 days. It really ain’t like it used to be. The pessimistic side of me wants to wonder where we would be had we beaten Auburn and Mississippi State, but for now I’m happy just reveling in finally beating LSU."
She touched on it there — the 2018 season has been a roller coaster of emotions. Even the SEC Network broadcast mentioned it with a silly animated graphic. The feeling of Jimbo affecting the program for the better was there for most of the season, but there were times that tested the patience of Aggie fans, such as those losses to Mississippi State and Auburn.
We’ve obviously been here before. The excitement for the program was at an all time high after the 2012 season in which the Aggies finished 11-2 and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman trophy. Manziel dealt with some injuries (and the defense sucked) in 2013 and derailed what many thought could be a national championship contending season.
Jimbo has a lot of work to do to catch Alabama. But the general feeling is he’ll be able to stack up with the elite in the SEC West soon. It wasn’t this year, and it might not be next year, but the future has never looked better for the Texas A&M football program.
That starts with making people fear Kyle Field.