A year ago this Thursday night, I was roaming the sidelines at Kyle Field with a belly full of turkey and a gut full of anticipation.
You could feel it anywhere you went in College Station the whole day, whether fans were wearing maroon or burnt orange. There's a special atmosphere that looms over any game like that.
Fans want it more than any game on the schedule and the last century of college football has given us only a handful of games like that between teams of two fan bases who truly despise one another 365 days a year, culminating on one night to decide bragging rights for the next 365 days.
Texas owns those bragging rights for now via a 27-25 win last year that happened somehow, apparently. Looking back on it, I'm still not sure how.
This year, TCU comes into town to face Texas on Thanksgiving night. Texas A&M hosts Missouri two days later.
It's not the same. TCU's all well and good and it should be a fun game. They're not Texas A&M. The crowd in Austin will tell you that from start to finish.
Despite what either side will tell you, it's both of their faults this game isn't happening this year. Texas warned Texas A&M: Leave the Big 12, and this rivalry is over.
Texas A&M left the Big 12. Texas stuck to its word.
Now, here we are.
(For the record, these same things apply to Missouri and Kansas. KU, call me when you win a Big 12 game. Missouri, call me when you stop losing to Vanderbilt and Syracuse at home. Texas A&M and Texas could both still crash the BCS this year.)
It's pettiness on both sides. Texas A&M's first year in the SEC has been a fun one, but they're also living in a world in which No. 9 in the BCS is good for third in its division and fifth in its conference. Winning its second conference title in almost two decades will be an uphill battle, even if the Aggies are most certainly headed in the right direction under new coach Kevin Sumlin.
Texas is headed in the right direction, too, and a Big 12 title remains a possibility. Still, this weekend lacks the punch it has for the better part of the past 100 years.
College football fans are suffering because of the bickering of two high-powered programs.
Texas A&M left, but Texas holds the key to bringing back one of college football's greatest rivalry games on an annual basis.
As much as Texas fans are looking forward to Ole Miss coming to Austin next year, I think they'll be forgiving if you replace the Rebels with the team folks in Austin love to pretend they don't care about.
It's good for the bottom line. It's good for the state of Texas. It's good for the game of college football.
Texas wants to stick to its word. It doesn't want to look wishy-washy. I get that. Truth is, neither team needs this game more than the other. Both want it, though, as much as Texas fans want to pretend they don't.
Pretend you're taking the high road if you'd like, but just bring it back. A world of thanks from the world of college football awaits.