A&M bound for Cotton Bowl
Published: Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Monday, December 3, 2012 00:12
A&M and the Big 12 Conference separated a season ago, but the two institutions will meet again — and sooner than many predicted. The No. 9 Aggies will play in the 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 4 against former Big 12 foe No. 11 Oklahoma.
A&M athletic director Eric Hyman said in a statement that the University is pleased with the invitation.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to represent the Southeastern Conference in the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic,” Hyman said. “Without a doubt, the hospitality shown by the Cotton Bowl is legendary and I am sure our Aggies, the 12th Man, will be well-represented at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.”
After a 10-2 season that featured a win on the road against then-No. 1 Alabama, an undefeated 6-0 record on the road and a second-place finish in the SEC West, A&M fell short of an invitation to one of the five Bowl Championship Series bowls despite a top-10 BCS ranking. This is due to the nature of the BCS regulations, which state that no more than two schools from a single conference can receive invitations and that the conference champions of each of the six BCS automatic-qualifying conference receives an automatic bid.
Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1) was considered a virtual lock for an at-large bid to a BCS bowl. However, BCS regulations stipulate that, if a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference finished in the top-16 of the BCS rankings and ranks ahead of at least one champion from an automatic-qualifying conference, that team will receive a bid. Northern Illinois (12-1), from the Mid-American Conference, slotted in at No. 15 in the BCS rankings to secure a berth in the Orange Bowl.
The Cotton Bowl will showcase a first-year head coach in A&M’s Kevin Sumlin against his former boss and team. Sumlin worked as an assistant to Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops from 2003 to 2007.
The Aggies return to the Cotton Bowl just two years after a 41-24 loss to LSU in 2010. That year, A&M represented the Big 12 in the game. This season, the Aggies will be the SEC representative. Six current Aggies started against LSU in 2010.
Oklahoma and A&M competed annually from 1996 to 2011 as members of the Big 12 South, a series which Oklahoma leads 19-11.
Prior to Saturday night’s Big 10 Championship game that featured a 70-31 Wisconsin win over then-No. 12 Nebraska, several media outlets floated A&M as a lock for the Capital One Bowl, held in Orlando, Fla.
“Not official until Sunday,” ESPN’s Brett McMurphy posted to his Twitter account. “But Johnny Football is going to Disney World. Capital One Bowl will pick A&M.”
After Wisconsin’s win, however, the likeliest A&M opponent in a hypothetical Capital One Bowl, Michigan, became ineligible for Capital One Bowl officials to select due to the win differentials between Michigan and now-eligible Nebraska and Northwestern. Neither Nebraska nor Northwestern was deemed an ideal matchup by the Capital One Bowl, which instead selected Georgia to face off with Nebraska.
Congestion at the top of the SEC contributed to much of the uncertainty and shuffling around the bowl announcement process. Including A&M, five SEC teams have 10 wins or more. Accordingly, rumors surfaced,connecting A&M to several different bowls against several different teams. At different times over the past weekend, A&M was projected against Nebraska, Michigan, or Northwestern in the Capital One Bowl, against Clemson in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, and against Oklahoma or Texas in the Cotton Bowl.