Cotton Bowl states its case for BCS status
Jan. 12, 2011 at 10:05 p.m.
Updated Jan. 11, 2011 at 7:12 p.m.
Josh Jasper's 50-yard field goal tied a Cotton Bowl record.
The successful kick was also a signal for many of the Texas A&M faithful at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington to head for the exits.
LSU had taken a 38-24 lead with 6:12 left in the fourth quarter and even most of the hard-core Aggies fans were on their way to the parking lot after Jasper added a 26-yard field goal with 3:04 remaining to put the final touches on LSU's 41-24 win.
Texas A&M fans shouldn't be too disappointed. LSU was clearly the superior team, but the Aggies showed some of the signs of improvement that marked a 9-4 season.
The Aggies were tri-champions of the Big 12 South and finished the season ranked No. 19, their first postseason national ranking since 1999.
Unless receiver Jeff Fuller decides to enter the NFL draft, the Aggies will return 10 starters on offense, including running back Cyrus Gray, who rushed for 100 yards in the Cotton Bowl.
The Aggies will have to make up for the loss of All-American Von Miller and leading tackler Michael Hodges at linebacker.
But they return eight defensive starters, including cornerback Coryell Judie, who had an interception and set a Cotton Bowl record for kickoff return yards.
LSU fans got to celebrate more than a fifth bowl victory in the last six years.
Defensive back Tyrann Mathieu, the defensive player of the game, was a true freshman, and the Tigers have a commitment from Zach Mettenberger, one of the nation's top junior college quarterbacks.
The No. 8 Tigers finished 11-2 and head coach Les Miles signed a new seven-year contract Wednesday after being courted by Michigan, his alma mater.
The trip back to Baton Rouge was more pleasant than the ride to College Station, but the biggest winner stayed right where it's at.
Texas A&M and LSU met in the 75th Cotton Bowl, but it was the first played in prime time.
The announced attendance was 83,514, which was more than the announced crowd for Monday night's BCS national championship game at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Fox Sports was the driving force in moving the game from its usual New Year's Day spot to Friday, Jan. 7, when it was virtually the only game in town for television viewers.
The Cotton Bowl took advantage by inviting back players from past Cotton Bowl games, most notably former Syracuse and Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown, who was introduced at halftime.
The Cotton Bowl has always been a first-class operation.
I grew up in Dallas, attended games with my father, and went on to sell programs for the game.
The first Cotton Bowl I covered was SMU's 7-3 win over Pittsburgh, a game that featured Eric Dickerson and Dan Marino.
The one negative the Cotton Bowl faced was the weather, which is always unpredictable at that time of year.
Sleet fell during the SMU-Pitt game and it snowed shortly after Boston College and Doug Flutie defeated Houston.
The weather became a moot point when the Cotton Bowl moved to Jerry World last season.
The Cotton Bowl has been sponsored by AT&T since 2006, and has made a strong case to add the initials BCS in the near future.
Mike Forman is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6588 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.