Pregame ponderables from College Station

COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Here are a few things I'll be watching for from tonight's Texas-Texas A&M game.

For Texas:

  • Don't going changing: The Longhorns have developed into the most consistent and best team in the Big 12 this season -- albeit in a down season. They are within hailing distance of the championship game if they don't alter the strategy they've employed this season.

  • Take a deep shot -- or several: Colt McCoy has built a steady body of work this season by becoming the nation's foremost short passer. The Aggies will be bunched for that. It wouldn't hurt if he tested a weak A&M secondary downfield early in the game. The recent development of Malcolm Williams has made it where teams can no longer double-team Jordan Shipley.

  • McCoy's shot at Kyle Field redemption: McCoy has never won at Kyle Field and the Aggies are the only South Division team with a winning record against him. He hasn't forgotten his previous loss here in 2007 or how they knocked him out of the game in 2006. The senior quarterback will be ready for this game, trust me.

For Texas A&M:

  • Protect Jerrod Johnson: The Aggies have allowed 24 sacks this season as Johnson has had to rely on his athleticism too often -- particularly against better teams. He'll be facing the most determined pass rush of the season against the Longhorns. A&M must keep its quarterback protected if it has any hopes of winning.

  • Don't worry about the negative numbers: An unranked A&M team has never beaten a top-5 Texas team, notching an 0-13 record, including last season's 49-9 blowout loss in Austin. The Aggies also will be trying to turn around a recent trend that has been just as disconcerting. A&M is 6-0 in games that are televised this season and 0-5 in games that haven't been shown.

  • Protect the ball: In recent losses to Oklahoma and Colorado, the Aggies lost four fumbles in both games. Mike Sherman has made that a primary aim in the past two weeks, holding open auditions for kick and punt returns. Texas has forced 30 turnovers this season to lead the conference. The Aggies must protect the ball and not allow the Longhorns any cheap touchdowns.

Kickoff is about 40 minutes away. Grab an extra turkey leg, come back and join me.