2013 AT&T Cotton Preview - OU vs. A&M

Posted Jan 4, 2012

2012-2013 Bowls - CFN's Preview & Prediction for the 2013 AT&T Cotton

2013 AT&T Cotton

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

- 2012-2013 CFN Bowl Central 
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National Rankings
3rd Total Offense 10th
56th Total Defense 45th
3rd Scoring Offense 11th
29th Scoring Defense 40th
13th Rushing Offense 59th
37th Run Defense 79th
14th Passing Offense 4th
80th Passing Defense 26th
86th Turnover Margin 79th
Position Rankings
relative to each other
5 Highest - 1 Lowest
T   O
5 Quarterbacks 5
3 RBs 3
4 Receivers 4
5 O Line 3.5
4 D Line 3
3 Linebackers 3
3 Secondary 4
3.5 Spec Teams 5
4 Coaching 5
Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Jan. 3, 8:30, ESPN

Here’s The Deal … Texas A&M couldn’t make a ton of noise in the Big 12 championship chase over the last several years, so it had no chance of doing much of anything in the SEC, right?

There was hope for the Aggies to be dangerous in their first year in the West – needing the aggressive defense and new coaching staff to step up and shine – but to go 10-2 with a victory over Alabama and a Heisman winner was beyond all reasonable dreams. But now the bar has been set higher after a brilliant year, going just eight points away from being unbeaten, and now the former Big 12er has a shot at its first 11-win season since winning the league in 1998.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma is coming in on a five game winning streak and a bad attitude after missing out on the BCS. With Northern Illinois slipping into the Orange Bowl, Louisville ended up in the Sugar and Oklahoma now is playing the Aggies instead of getting its chance at Florida. If the Sooners really did belong in the BCS, then this needs to be their moment to show that they really were elite this season.

It has gotten to the point for OU where, yeah, going 10-2 and not going to the Fiesta Bowl is a disappointment. The Cotton Bowl is nothing to sneeze at, and a third straight double-digit win season, and the sixth in seven years, is a success by any standard. A&M might have lost two close games to Florida and LSU, but the Sooners’ two losses came to Kansas State and Notre Dame in games that could’ve gone either way – even with the Irish winning 30-13.

The Cotton Bowl has grown into a BCS worthy matchup, and it’s a better pairing than any of the big games but the championship and the Fiesta, but these two former Big 12 South brothers haven’t come up with any classics lately with the last five decided by double digits. But now it really is a new era and this really is a new Texas A&M. For Oklahoma, though, getting a win would be a strong show of Big 12 power.

The Aggies beat Northwestern in last year’s Meineke, but before that they lost their previous five bowl games, ten of the previous 11 and 13 of the previous 15 going back to 1990. On the flip side, Oklahoma has been outstanding under Bob Stoops, winning its last three bowl games and with the five losses since winning the 2000 national title all coming in BCS games including three national championships.

Expect lots and lots of offense, two teams jacked up to play one another, and a very big statement to be made by the winning side.

Players to Watch: It’s the first game for Johnny Football as Johnny Heisman. Last year it was Ryan Tannehill who led the Aggies to the bowl win over Northwestern, and the starting quarterback spot was hardly settled after he left early and became the starting quarterback for the Miami Dolphins. In a special season, going from nobody to legendary, Johnny Manziel turned out to be the perfect fit for the Kevin Sumlin attack finishing first in the nation in total offense, running for 1,181 yards and 19 touchdowns while throwing for 3,419 yards and 24 scores with eight picks. More than that, he was magical in the win over Alabama, the close call against Louisiana Tech, and from the first quarter against Florida to the finish against Missouri. However, now he’s the Heisman winner and there’s a gigantic target on his back. It’s not like Oklahoma needed more of an incentive to come into the game intense.

As good as Manziel might be, Landry Jones might be the better pure quarterback, closing out his record-setting career after throwing for 16,368 yards with 122 touchdowns and a 3-0 bowl record. He never got the respect or the publicity of other recent Sooner quarterbacks like Jason White and Sam Bradford, but he owns the school’s record books while finding a renewed life over the second half of his senior year. He only threw for 244 yards and two scores in the win over TCU, but that was coming off a 500-yard day against Oklahoma State and a 554-yard, six touchdown day against West Virginia. Manziel has the Heisman, but Jones could come out of this game as the star. At least that’s what the NFL scouts will be looking for.

Texas A&M DE Damontre Moore has already said he’s declaring for the NFL draft, but he’s still going to play in the Cotton Bowl. A certain first-round pick, and possible a top ten overall selection, he’s an extraordinary pass rusher who came up with an All-America season making 80 tackles with 12.5 sacks and 23 tackles for loss. With excellent size, a great burst and an excellent motor into the backfield, this is the last chance to make a big impact for the scouts. They already know what he can do, but he could move up a few slots with one more big performance.

Texas A&M will win if … it gets Moore and the pass rush going right away. Oklahoma has been terrific in pass protection behind a patched up line, but Notre Dame did a nice job of getting into the backfield and pressuring Jones, and Kansas State was able to come up with a few sacks and kept the OU passing game from pushing it deep. Jones has become better at getting the ball out of his hands in a hurry and reading the rush, but the Sooner offense is far better when the receivers are allowed to stretch the field. Jones might not have that kind of time, and it has been a bit of a problem against the Aggies over the years, failing to throw for 300 yards in either game. In 2010, the 290 yards in the loss was the only time under 300 in the final stretch under nine games. Last year, Jones was on a phenomenal run throwing for 300 yards or more in seven of eight games, and 400 or more in five of those, with the A&M game the one aberration.

OU is going to be locked in on stopping Manziel, and while A&M won’t use him as a decoy, getting other players involved right away, and coming up with a few quick-hitting passes to get the receivers on the move would be a major plus. Manziel is at his best when he’s taking off and making something happen when nothing is there, but running back Ben Malena can handle a bit more of a workload than he’s been getting, and receivers Mike Evans and Ryan Swope are terrific threats who need to be brought into the flow right away.

Oklahoma will win if … the run defense rocks. The two worst rushing games by the Aggies this season came against both Florida and LSU, gaining 134 yards in each. Those also happened to be the team’s only two losses of the year with Manziel gaining just 60 yards against Florida and 27 against the Gators – both season lows. OU has allowed 181 rushing yards per game, and it had problems keeping Notre Dame’s Everett Golson from taking off and got barreled on a bit by Collin Klein. With the time off to prepare, and considering the defensive front doesn’t make a ton of plays behind the line, Tom Wort and the linebackers have to keep Manziel from getting into the secondary – they have to stay disciplined when the play breaks down.

Oklahoma has to be Oklahoma and just has to do what it does offensively. The Sooners are 10-0 this year when scoring 20 points or more. Since losing to Texas 45-35 in 2008, the Sooners are 1-9 when scoring 20 or fewer and a whopping 47-3 when doing more. Texas A&M doesn’t have the pass defense to keep the Sooners from coming up with a decent day in a bit of a shootout, and while Manziel and company can put up numbers in bunches, history dictates that this needs to be more of a slugfest.

What Will Happen: Bob Stoops doesn’t lose non-BCS bowl games. Texas A&M has the right mix of talents and schemes to screw up the Sooners, and Manziel will get his yards and stats, but OU is a bit more experienced when it comes to getting into shootouts having had to deal with the firefights against West Virginia and Oklahoma State late in the season. OU doesn’t give up a slew of big plays in the passing game, while the run defense will do just enough to get by. This should be an up-and-down offensive show with the team getting the ball last likely to pull it out.

CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 38 … Texas A&M 34
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Texas A&M -4.5 O/U: 72.5

Cotton Bowl History  
2012 Arkansas 29, Kansas State 16
2011 LSU 41, Texas A&M 24
2010 Ole Miss 21, Oklahoma State 7
2009 Ole Miss 47, Texas Tech 34
2008 Missouri 38, Arkansas 7
2007 Auburn 17, Nebraska 14
2006 Alabama 13, Texas Tech 10
2005 Tennessee 38, Texas A&M 7
2004 Mississippi 31, Oklahoma St 28
2003 Texas 35, LSU 20
2002 Oklahoma 10, Arkansas 3
2001 Kansas State 35, Tennessee 21
2000 Arkansas 27, Texas 6
1999 Texas 38, Mississippi St. 11
1998 UCLA 29, Texas A&M 23
1997 BYU 19, Kansas St. 15
1996 Colorado 38, Oregon 6
1995 USC 55, Texas Tech 14
1994 Notre Dame 24, Texas A&M 21
1993 Notre Dame 28, Texas A&M 3
1992 Florida St. 10, Texas A&M 2
1991 Miami, Fla 46, Texas 3
1990 Tennessee 31, Arkansas 27
1989 UCLA 17, Arkansas 3
1988 Texas A&M 35, Notre Dame 10
1987 Ohio St. 28, Texas A&M 12
1986 Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16
1985 Boston College 45, Houston 28
1984 Georgia 10, Texas 9
1983 SMU 7, Pittsburgh 3
1982 Texas 14, Alabama 12
1981 Alabama 30, Baylor 2
1980 Houston 17, Nebraska 14
1979 Notre Dame 35, Houston 34
1978 Notre Dame 38, Texas 10
1977 Houston 30, Maryland 21
1976 Arkansas 31, Georgia 10
1975 Penn St. 41, Baylor 20
1974 Nebraska 19, Texas 3
1973 Texas 17, Alabama 13
1972 Penn St. 30, Texas 6
1971 Notre Dame 24, Texas 11
1970 Texas 21, Notre Dame 17
1969 Texas 36, Tennessee 13
1968 Texas A&M 20, Alabama 16
1967 Georgia 24, SMU 9
1966 LSU 14, Arkansas 7
1965 Arkansas 10, Nebraska 7
1964 Texas 28, Navy 6
1963 LSU 13, Texas 0
1962 Texas 12, Mississippi 7
1961 Duke 7, Arkansas 6
1960 Syracuse 23, Texas 14
1959 Air Force 0, TCU 0
1958 Navy 20, Rice 7
1957 TCU 28, Syracuse 27
1956 Mississippi 14, TCU 13
1955 Georgia Tech 14, Arkansas 6
1954 Rice 28, Alabama 6
1953 Texas 16, Tennessee 0
1952 Kentucky 20, TCU 7
1951 Tennessee 20, Texas 14
1950 Rice 27, North Carolina 13
1949 SMU 21, Oregon 13
1948 Penn St. 13, SMU 13
1947 Arkansas 0, LSU 0
1946 Texas 40, Missouri 27
1945 Oklahoma St. 34, TCU 0
1944 Randolph Field 7, Texas 7
1943 Texas 14, Georgia Tech 7
1942 Alabama 29, Texas A&M 21
1941 Texas A&M 13, Fordham 12
1940 Clemson 6, Boston College 3
1939 St. Marys 20, Texas Tech 13
1938 Rice 28, Colorado 14
1937 TCU 16, Marquette 6