Bowl Picks: The Old and the New!
By Queen Carioca
Come in and have a seat. Close the tent flap behind you as once again I glance into my crystal ball.
Check out my prophecy for tonight’s Cotton Bowl:
AT&T COTTON BOWL
TEXAS A&M (10-2) vs OKLAHOMA (10-2): Dallas, Texas. What a perfect venue to pit the old, grizzled gunfighter against the young hotshot with a hair trigger. It’s a clash of two dynamic offenses, one led by the 3rd most prolific passer in major college football history, the other by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
Texas A&M and Oklahoma have combined to score 135 touchdowns and 1,020 points this year. Moreover, these two high-flying squads have together accounted for 7.2 miles worth of offensive yardage. It’s the kind of matchup that makes any bowl executive salivate – but when it’s the Cotton Bowl, and the teams are old Big 12 rivals, the pot is sweetened even more.
The Sooners have the type of silently efficient attack that will consistently cut at you without you even realizing that you’re bleeding, evidenced by OU’s national-best average of 21 plays/game of 10 yards or more. Oklahoma is paced by Landry Jones – the most battle-tested college signal caller you’ll ever come across. The Cotton Bowl will mark the 50th start of Jones illustrious career. During his time in Norman the senior has racked up 122 touchdowns passes and 16, 368 through the air – and three bowl wins. After a slow start to the season, Jones caught fire down the stretch, averaging 396 yards/game in the Sooners’ final five contests – all wins. Kenny Stills (75 catches), Justin Brown (66), Jalen Saunders (53)and Sterling Shepherd (41) give Jones plenty of options, while Damien Williams (905 yards) and Brendan Clay (511 yards) provide balance with an OU running game that averages nearly 5 yards per pop.
As good as the Sooners have been in key offensive areas like 3rd down efficiency (no. 5 nationally – 52.4% success), the Aggies have been even better. Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to ever claim the award, directs a wide open Texas A&M attack that took the SEC by storm, leading the league in nearly every major category – including scoring, rushing, passing and total offense. En route to winning the trophy, Manziel completed 68% of his throws and accounted for 4,600 yards and 43 touchdowns. Moreover, Manziel did all the little things right, throwing just 8 picks and leading a TAMU squad that finished tops in the country in 3rd down offense, converting over 55% of its tries, including a 61% effort in a stunning win over Alabama’s top-ranked defense in mid-November. He will face a stiff challenge against an Oklahoma secondary that allowed just 9 TD tosses despite navigating its way through the Big 12 Conference – a league that was home to 5 of the country’s top 10 passing attacks in 2012.
The Aggies had to leave the SEC to face the only top 10 offense they encountered all season and when they did they barely survived to tell the tale. In October Kevin Sumlin’s squad ventured into Ruston to tangle with Sonny Dykes Big 12-ish Louisiana Tech offense. The Aggies were bailed out by a heroic effort by Manziel as D-Coordinator Mark Snyder’s unit was shredded for 615 total yards in a way-too-scary 59-57 win. Rest assured that OC Josh Heupel and the Sooners offensive staff will be dissecting every angle of that game video.
Landry Jones is 1-1 in his career vs the Aggies, but to get to 2-1 he’ll have to solve an A&M defense that has been exceptional on 3rd down (11th nationally after forcing the opposition off the field 69.3% of the time). Heisman winners have won three straight bowl games overall but all-time they are only 3-4 in the Cotton Bowl. My looking glass tells me that record drops to 3-5 after tonight as the Sooners scrap out a minor upset to put a cap on another exceptional year for Bob Stoops.
Oklahoma 34, Texas A&M 30