Cotton Bowl Preview
By Donovan Tennimon
Follow us at Twitter.com/SouthernPigskin. Become a fan at the SouthernPigskin.com Facebook Page
This will be the first time Texas A&M and Oklahoma have faced each other in a bowl game.
Two teams that finished the season at 10-2 will square off in Cowboys Stadium in the Cotton Bowl Friday night. Old Big XII rivals Texas A&M and Oklahoma want to end their impressive seasons on a high note and launch what they hope will be a bigger and better 2013 season. These teams have a lot more in common than sharing the same conference for 17 years. Both the Aggies and Sooners rank in the top 10 nationally in scoring offense and total offense. This game has a BCS feel and will probably be one of the most entertaining bowls of the season.
At this time last year, the Aggies were bringing in a new coach, heading to a new conference, and trying to figure out who would replace Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Since then, Kevin Sumlin has led Texas A&M to a 10-win season in the SEC, highlighted by a win over then No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. A redshirt freshman quarterback named Johnny Manziel also broke the SEC’s record for total offense set by Cam Newton and became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy in the process. Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Kliff Kingsbury, who followed Sumlin from Houston, is heading to his alma mater, Texas Tech, to become their new head coach. Overall, the Aggies 2012 season has to be considered a great success.
The Sooner’s season, on the other hand, could be considered by some to be a slight disappointment. Oklahoma was supposed to win their conference and compete for the BCS national championship, and Landry Jones was supposed to be the one hoisting the Heisman Trophy in New York City at the end of the year. An early season loss at home to Kansas State followed by a humbling home loss to Notre Dame derailed any chances for a national championship though. Kansas State had a remarkable year to capture the conference championship and represent the Big XII in the BCS, while Oklahoma just missed playing in a BCS bowl game thanks to a quirky rule that allowed Northern Illinois to play in the Orange Bowl instead.
Senior quarterback Landry Jones still had a great season, completing over 65% of his passes for almost 4,000 yards, while throwing 29 touchdowns against 10 interceptions. He holds almost every career passing record in Oklahoma history, including passing yards, touchdown passes, attempts, completions, and wins. The Aggies will try to get to Jones early and often to knock him off his game. Junior defensive end Damontre Moore will try to improve his draft status, as he has already declared for the NFL draft. A big showing in the Cotton Bowl will solidify him as a first-round pick.
There’s not much more that can be written or said about the season Johnny Manziel put together. Many are wondering how the 20-year old freshman will react to all the attention he has received since winning the Heisman Trophy. Also, how will the loss of his position coach and coordinator change his game, if at all? Oklahoma will do their best to contain Manziel and not give him time to improvise and create plays. Of course, that’s what every other defense has attempted to do all this season.
Game Within the Game: Which defense can produce the most stops? Texas A&M struggled against two of the better defenses they played in Florida and LSU, with both games resulting in a loss. The Sooners didn’t fare much better against Kansas State and Notre Dame. While everyone is expecting plenty of offense to accompany loads of points, defenses take exception to that mode of thinking, especially when the defenses have a lot of time to prepare for the quarterbacks and their tendencies. It’s been more than a month since these teams last played a game. The Sooners and Aggies are sure to score their points, but don’t be surprised to watch the defenses play better than they did during the regular season.
Extra Points: These two teams have met 30 times, with Oklahoma holding a 19-11 edge in the series. The first meeting was in 1903, when the Sooners won 6-0, while the last meeting took place in 2011 also resulting in an Oklahoma victory, 41-25. This will be the first time Texas A&M and Oklahoma have faced each other in a bowl game.