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November 23, 2007
A&M downs Texas in Fran's final game
COLLEGE STATION, Texas-- No secrets here. Another win over Texas probably won't be enough to save Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione's job.
Franchione's likely finale at least provided a fun day for the Aggies' faithful, a 38-30 victory over the 13th-ranked Longhorns on Friday.
With a seemingly inspired performance - maybe for Franchione, but more likely the pride of beating their hated rival - the Aggies (7-5, 4-4 Big 12) have consecutive victories over Texas for the first time since 1991-94 under Franchione's predecessor, R.C. Slocum.
Stephen McGee threw for a career-high 362 yards with three touchdowns and scored on a hard-driving run. Holder T.J. Sanders got his only career TD when he capped A&M's 95-yard drive with a 5-yard TD run on a fake field goal and the defense forced three turnovers (two fumbles, interception) by Texas quarterback Colt McCoy.
Texas (9-3, 5-3), which after its first 0-2 conference start since 1956 had won five straight games, still has an outside shot of making it to the Big 12 championship game if 10th-ranked Oklahoma loses to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
For Franchione, his satisfaction will have to come from beating Texas twice. There have been no Big 12 titles, and his 32-28 record over the past five seasons is far from what was expected when he took over in Aggieland - especially for the $2 million a year he's scheduled to make through 2012.
A 12-7 victory last year that kept Texas out of the Big 12 title game seemed to bolster the coach's future, and fend off the anti-Franchione sentiment.
This one appears to be too late for Franchione, coming after four losses the previous five games and his secretive, pay-for electronic newsletter.
Mike Goodson ran 12 times for 72 yards and caught six passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns for the Aggies. McGee was 25-of-36 with two interceptions.
Two touchdowns in the final 7:36 weren't enough for the Longhorns, who now have to wait and see what happens Saturday. If the Sooners lose, there will be a three-way tie for the Big 12 South lead and the division representative for the league title game would be determined by which team is higher in the next BCS standings.
In late September, Franchione acknowledged that his personal assistant was sending inside information to boosters who paid $1,200 a year to get the e-mails. School officials admonished the coach for the private newsletter and said the embarrassing episode would be a factor in deciding whether he returns next season.
Athletic director Bill Byrne has repeatedly said that he would sit down with Franchione and evaluate his future at the end of the season. With a bowl game likely, the timing of that meeting is uncertain.
Still, Franchione was downright giddy on the field Friday.
With the Aggies up 17-0 right before halftime and Texas lined up for a field goal, Franchione called timeout just before the snap and then had a huge grin on his face. The Longhorns were going to fake the kick, hoping to duplicate A&M's success the previous drive, but the play was ruled dead and they then settled for Ryan Bailey's 27-yard field goal.
Then in the fourth quarter, Franchione was jubilantly jogging and waving first down for the Aggies after Kellen Heard forced the second fumble by McCoy.
Sanders, the seldom-used senior listed as a backup quarterback, put the Aggies up 17-0 when he took the snap and placed the ball briefly on the ground. He then picked it up and swept around right end on A&M's only fake field goal try this season.
McGee scored on a 6-yard keeper late in the third quarter, when he was hit at the 4, again at the 2 and kept driving until he was in the end zone for a 24-10 lead.
Quan Cosby returned the ensuing kickoff 91 yards for a TD, but the Aggies quickly answered at the start of the fourth quarter when McGee threw a 44-yard TD to Goodson.
After Texas went three-and-out, McGee threw a 66-yard TD pass to Earvin Taylor for a 38-17 lead.