Sooners will get a shot at Manziel
gain. Bring on Heisman Trophy favorite Johnny Manziel and the new and improved 10-2 Aggies, with their SEC swagger, for a Jan. 4 showcase matchup that outshines most BCS bowls.
“We hit a home run,” AT&T Cotton Bowl chairman Tommy Bain said. “Some unexpected things happened at the end, and the cards fell in our favor. We got one of the hottest teams (A&M) in college football and two high-powered offenses.”
The Capital One Bowl, meanwhile, struck out looking, letting the bat be taken out of its hands. The Cap One, on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla., wanted the Aggies, and the Aggies wanted the Cap One.
But the Cap One, which has first dibs from the SEC after the BCS picks, came under intense pressure in the last 24 hours from the SEC office to protect title game loser Georgia (11-2) from falling too far. So the Cap One is left with a potential ratings dud of Georgia vs. Nebraska, which was humiliated 70-31 in the Big Ten title game.
Meanwhile, No. 9 LSU, which had 20,000 fans preorder Cotton Bowl tickets, tumbled to the New Year’s Eve Chick-fil-A in Atlanta against No. 14 Clemson.
A&M and Oklahoma obviously know each other well, playing every year from 1993 to 2011 in the Big 12. The Sooners won 12 of 18. But they weren’t facing Kevin Sumlin and Johnny Football, who has taken the sport by storm.
Big 12 coaches did all they could to muscle Oklahoma into the BCS. In the coaches’ poll, which makes up one-third of the BCS rankings, four of the five Big 12 voting coaches — OU’s Bob Stoops, Baylor’s Art Briles, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads and West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen — either put OU as high as No. 6 or ranked Northern Illinois as low as 24th, or both.
Only Texas Tech’s Tommy Tuberville ranked the two teams where they finished in the polls.
Big 12 champ Kansas State didn’t need any politicking. Heisman candidate Collin Klein and the No. 7 Wildcats earned a Fiesta Bowl bid against No. 5 Oregon. It will be quite the contrast between K-State’s methodical blue-collar approach and the Ducks’ glitzy, video-game attack.
The rest of the nine bowleligible Big 12 teams slid into place, some landing gently, others not so much.
The Alamo Bowl, which picks after the Cotton, settled on Texas (8-4) to play Oregon State (9-3). The Longhorns can drive to San Antonio, but eager Beaver fans will fly and help fill hotels for several nights.
Of the four 7-5 Big 12 teams, TCU had its name called first, to face Michigan State (6-6) in the Buffalo Wild Wings in Tempe, Ariz.
Baylor, easily the hottest of those 7-5 teams — winning three straight and four of five — drew a surprise trip to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl against UCLA. Holiday officials had been pointing toward Texas Tech or West Virginia.
Tech, which has faded badly, drew the Dec. 28 Meineke Car Care at Reliant Stadium in Houston against 6-6 Minnesota.
That left Geno Smith and the high-flying West Virginia offensive circus for the Dec. 29 Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, facing Syracuse (7-5).
Defending league champ Oklahoma State suffered serious slippage, taking a Heart of Dallas spot opposite Purdue (6-6), which fired its coach.
Iowa State (6-6), scrambling for an unaffiliated Big 12 bowl, made out better than some of its league brethren, being invited to the Liberty Bowl against Conference USA champ Tulsa (10-3).