Soon­ers will get a shot at Manziel


Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - C Con­tact Kevin Lyt­tle at 4453615.

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).

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