Monday, December 6, 2010
AT&T Cotton Bowl
By Chris Low and David Ubben
LSU Tigers (10-2) vs. Texas A&M Aggies (9-3)
Jan. 7, 8 p.m. ET (FOX)
LSU take by SEC blogger Chris Low: For a team that went 10-2 in the regular season with both losses coming to top 10 opponents, LSU took its share of grief this season.
Part of that was another near disaster at the end of the game, this time against Tennessee. The Vols bailed Les Miles and the Tigers out by having 13 defenders on the field, though.
It looked like the clock had expired before LSU could push across that last touchdown. The Tigers got another shot thanks to the penalty on the Vols … and survived.
LSU’s defense was excellent for most of the season and carried a far heavier burden than it should have. That’s because the Tigers tried to do it without a passing game for the first two months of the season. Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee split time for a while, but it's been mostly Jefferson at the end of the season.
About the time the Tigers found a passing game and beat Alabama 24-21 in their best win of the season on Nov. 6, their defense started to fade a bit.
The Tigers had trouble getting off the field defensively in both of their last two games against Ole Miss and Arkansas. They barely squeezed by Ole Miss, but were beaten by the Hogs in Little Rock -- costing the Tigers a BCS bowl.
Texas A&M take by Big 12 blogger David Ubben: There weren't many who picked the Aggies to be here back in October. Texas A&M sat at 3-3 and 0-2 in Big 12 play, fresh off a three-touchdown home loss to Missouri. Forget the Cotton Bowl, the Aggies would have been thankful for any bowl at that point.
And yet, here they are, snug in the Big 12's No. 2 bowl spot. They have a six-game winning streak to thank, one that included wins over two top 10 teams. That streak was keyed off by making a switch from Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Jerrod Johnson at quarterback to Ryan Tannehill, who also happened to be one of Johnson's top receivers. He's not the only reason. Running back Cyrus Gray bulldozed his way onto the media's All-Big 12 team with his dominance down the season's stretch after top running back Christine Michael's season ended with a broken leg. The Aggies defense is one of the league's most improved units, too. Mike Sherman got what he expected with new coordinator Tim DeRuyter, and now, the Aggies are in the Cotton Bowl for the first time since 2004.
Expect the Aggies fans to head three hours west to Dallas in droves, eager to support their red-hot team.