Dallas Colleges: Cotton Bowl

Gundy: AT&T Stadium good choice for first playoff title game

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
ARLINGTON, Texas -- This time next year, AT&T Stadium will be hosting not only the Cotton Bowl, but also the College Football Playoff's first championship game.

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, moments after his team lost 41-31 to Missouri in the Cotton Bowl, was asked about Jerry Jones' palace hosting the first title game under the new system.

"I just don't know if there's a better facility out there that puts on a show and is accommodating to the game," Gundy said. "It's very impressive. I think that whoever made the decision made a good decision to give these people the opportunity to have that national championship game."

AT&T Stadium beat out Tampa, Fla., to host the title game and will do so on Jan. 12, 2015. The stadium will go into the rotation for semifinal games in future years. The Cotton Bowl will be on Dec. 31, 2014 as part of a triple-header of games.

Big 12 not at SEC level, but getting closer

January, 4, 2014
Jan 4
ARLINGTON, Texas -- No matter what Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops tells you, the Big 12 is not up to the SEC’s level. Not yet, anyway. But the conference isn’t as far off as the experts thought when the season began, either.

[+] EnlargeMike Gundy
Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsMike Gundy watched as Missouri narrowly escaped Friday night.
Missouri ended Oklahoma State’s hopes of becoming the second Big 12 team to knock off an SEC team in two nights Friday. The Cowboys watched as defensive end Shane Ray scooped up a late-game fumble and rumbled 73 yards for the touchdown that sealed Missouri’s 41-31 win in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.

It was a back-and-forth fourth quarter between two of the better offenses in the country, and it ended with the SEC team making a key play late to ensure the victory.

Just six years ago, Missouri was winning the Cotton Bowl as a member of the Big 12. You can take Missouri’s success this season -- an East Division title and a spot in the SEC championship game -- and Texas A&M’s status as a top-flight program as a slap to the Big 12, since the Tigers and Aggies left the conference for the greener (think dollars) pastures of the SEC two years ago. But there’s another way of looking at it: Perhaps the Big 12 was better than many thought, since both programs are competing for titles in the best conference in the country so quickly.

It’s clear the Big 12 needs the Texas Longhorns to return to prominence for this league to consistently compete for national titles as the SEC continues to do. But Auburn is proof that a big program with resources, talent and the right coach can engineer a turnaround in record time. There’s no reason to think Texas can’t rebound quickly, either.

I know what you’re thinking: If the biggest school in your conference is making news by looking for a new coach fresh off a tumultuous season -- and having some trouble finding some big names who want to actually take the job -- how can 2013 be considered a step forward for said conference?

But to judge this Big 12 season on Texas’ failure isn’t completely fair. How quickly we forget that nobody expected much from this conference when the season began.

The preseason AP top 25 included four Big 12 teams. None of them were in the top 10. The highest-ranked team was Oklahoma State, at No. 13. Texas was a sleeper pick by some for a run to the national title game. Instead, the Longhorns sputtered, fired their defensive coordinator and waved goodbye to head coach Mack Brown after a blowout loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

TCU, ranked 20th when the season began, was supposed to be primed for conference championship contention with a bunch of returning starters. But injuries and an ineffective offense led to the end of the school’s bowl streak and the hiring of a couple of new offensive coaches.

Baylor wasn’t even in the top 25 when the season began, but sprinted up the rankings about as quickly as it scored points. The Bears got rid of the tarps and became the conference’s best chance for a BCS title-game appearance, but that run ended in a blowout loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater.

[+] EnlargeOklahoma
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesOklahoma's win over Alabama gave the Big 12 a boost.
Oklahoma rebounded from an injury-plagued 2012 to get back to a BCS bowl. But a loss to Texas at the Cotton Bowl in October slowed its rise, and Baylor ended any long-shot title-game discussion with a 41-12 trouncing.

The conference did manage a few bowl wins that could be building blocks toward next season. Texas Tech came into the Holiday Bowl as a huge underdog after losing its final five regular-season games. But the Red Raiders beat up Arizona State. Kansas State outplayed Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. It hurt that Baylor lost as a heavy favorite to Central Florida in the Fiesta, but that might say more about the Knights and how good they were than it does about the Bears. Oklahoma made the biggest statement, pulling the shocker of the bowl season with a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama on Thursday. With Texas down, the Sooners needed to step up for the conference -- and did against a team that many thought was the best in the country despite losing to Auburn in the Iron Bowl.

In the end, the conference held its own during bowl season. Monday night will be another reminder that the Big 12 has work to do as the SEC plays for an eighth consecutive national title against an undefeated Florida State team from the ACC.

It wasn’t that long ago that Texas and Oklahoma were playing for national titles -- and even winning some of them. There’s still work to do, but the Big 12 isn’t far from having that opportunity again.

Seeing is believing with Johnny Manziel

January, 4, 2013

ARLINGTON, Texas -- I don’t usually beg to work during January. For a baseball beat writer, time off before spring training is precious. But there wasn’t any way I was going to miss Friday’s AT&T Cotton Bowl, even if it meant cutting short a vacation to do it.

[+] EnlargeJohnny Manziel
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesJohnny Manziel finished with 287 passing yards (2 TDs) and 229 rushing yards (2 TDs) and smashed the previous Cotton Bowl record for yards from scrimmage (407).
I had to see Johnny Manziel in person. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is great in HD. But I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him racing around the JerryWorld turf and on the gargantuan video board above the field.

I’ll confess that I almost expected him to let me down. After all, he’s a freshman who has had a whirlwind month. He won the Heisman and gave a nice speech. He went on "Letterman" and a bunch of other late-night shows. He has done a ton of interviews since the regular season ended, something freshmen don’t normally do at Texas A&M (and many other programs). There was so much buildup that it was possible he wouldn’t live up to all the hype.

But Johnny Football absolutely exceeded it. He obliterated the Cotton Bowl record book, rushing for 229 yards, the most by any quarterback in the game’s history and the fourth-most by any player in the illustrious history of the bowl. He had 516 total yards, also a Cotton Bowl record. He had two rushing touchdowns and two passing TDs, and dazzled everybody watching.

Manziel looked like a guy trying to validate his Heisman Trophy. I’m sure he didn’t think of it that way, but there were voters unsure about handing that famous award to a freshman for the first time. I don’t understand those folks, but they were out there. You won’t hear much out of them after Friday’s game.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel talks to Ian Fitzsimmons about the Aggies' dominant Cotton Bowl victory over Oklahoma.

Listen Listen
The stats are impressive. The only other quarterback with 200-plus rushing and passing yards in a bowl game was Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl. But it’s watching Manziel that’s so much fun. He makes an 8-yard run up the middle a work of art, zigzagging his way around defenders who go to grasp him and come up with air. He darts in and out of holes, makes tacklers miss by quickly shifting gears and directions before they can figure out what’s happening.

Manziel’s athleticism allows him to tiptoe down the sidelines, like he did in the first quarter, turning what should have been a short gain into a 23-yard touchdown run. He gets pressured, runs away from it and always keeps his eyes downfield searching for an open receiver. And he normally finds one.

One of his most impressive plays Friday happened to be his lone interception. He rolled to his right, felt the OU pass rush closing in, spun around, and flung a pass to the back of the end zone that hit the hands of receiver Malcome Kennedy and ended up as a turnover. It should have been a highlight-reel touchdown.

Perhaps Manziel wouldn’t win a 40-yard dash against some of the Oklahoma defenders, but his ability to change directions and make shrewd cuts makes him extremely difficult to run down. It also means you can’t take your eyes off the field when A&M goes on offense.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops found himself trying to explain why his club couldn’t contain Manziel. He’s not the only coach who has had to answer those questions. Stoops said Manziel is the best quarterback his team faced all season.

"Because of not only throwing the football, but what he does with his feet," Stoops said. "Even if guys are in position, he’s strong and quick running. He’s hard to get to."

That’s for sure. The Cotton Bowl didn’t shy away from building this as a game involving not only two former Big 12 foes, but a Heisman Trophy quarterback who could showcase his skills in front of a national audience and the second-largest crowd in Cotton Bowl history. Manziel refused to disappoint.

I’m glad I got a chance to witness it. Sure, I would have preferred a closer game and a compelling finish. But then again, we might not have had the chance to see Manziel truly dominate the game. That was worth a shortened vacation and a fun night of "work."

It’s eight months until Texas A&M versus Alabama in College Station. I can’t wait.

Fast facts about Texas A&M's victory

January, 4, 2013

Some fast facts as Texas A&M rolled to a 41-13 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium.

  • Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel set a Cotton Bowl record with 516 total yards from scrimmage, breaking the old record of 407 with 3:55 remaining in the THIRD quarter. He finished with 287 passing yards (2 TDs) and 229 rushing yards (2 TDs).

  • Manziel's 229 rushing yards set an all-time FBS bowl record for QBs. It also was the fourth-best rushing performance in Cotton Bowl history, regardless of position. Fifth on the list -- former Texas running back Ricky Williams (202).

  • More Johnny Football: According to ESPN Stats & Information, Manziel became just the second player with 200-plus rushing yards and 200-plus passing yards in a bowl game. The other: Texas QB Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl.

  • Manziel became just the fourth player in FBS history to rush for 20+ touchdowns and pass for 20+ touchdowns, joining Tim Tebow (Florida), Cam Newton (Auburn) and Colin Kaepernick (Nevada).

  • A&M became the first SEC school to surpass 7,000 yards of offense in a season, gaining 400+ yards in their final 12 games. The 599 yards against the Sooners set a Cotton Bowl record, breaking an 18-year-old mark set by Southern Cal (578) against Texas Tech in 1995.

  • The Aggies captured back-to-back bowl wins for the first time since the 1940 Sugar Bowl (14-13 over Tulane) and the 1941 Cotton Bowl (13-12 over Fordham).

  • Kevin Sumlin becomes the first A&M coach to win 11 games in his first season. D.X. Bible (1917) and R.C. Slocum (1989) won eight games.

  • The Aggies record 11 wins for the first time since 1998, when A&M finished 11-3 under Slocum.

  • With the Aggies' win, the SEC improves 28-18 in 46 all-time bowl matchups against Big 12 teams.

  • A&M improves to 5-8 in Cotton Bowl appearances dating to 1941, and 15-19 overall in bowl games. Only Texas (22 games) has appeared in more Cotton Bowls.

  • Teams from the state of Texas improved to 12-1 in bowl games over the past two seasons, with the only loss coming by TCU in this season's Holiday Bowl.
  • Johnny Manziel passes 200 yards rushing

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- A 31-yard run by Johnny Manziel in the fourth quarter put him at 229 rushing yards, putting him fourth on the all-time Cotton Bowl list (first by any quarterback). He passed Ricky Williams for fourth.

    The all-time rushing leader is Tony Temple, who had 24 carries for 281 yards and four touchdowns in 2008.

    He's only the fifth player to rush for more than 200 yards in a Cotton Bowl.

    Texas A&M pouring it on, up 41-13

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Once again, the Texas A&M defense held the Sooners and Johnny Manziel did the rest. A 34-yard pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu put the Aggies up 41-13 with just over nine minutes left in the game.

    Records continue to fall in the game. The Aggies have 599 yards of total offense, a Cotton Bowl record. Manziel has a chance at 300 yards passing and 200 yards rushing, depending on how things go as this game finishes.

    Johnny Manziel breaking Cotton Bowl records

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Johnny Manziel has 412 total yards, a Cotton Bowl record, and he set that mark with just under four minutes left in the third quarter.

    Manziel threw a 33-yard pass to Ryan Swope on a fourth-and-5 to give the Aggies a 34-13 lead.

    Manziel also has 169 rushing yards, a Cotton Bowl record for a quarterback.

    Credit the A&M defense, which stopped the Sooners on their first three second-half possessions, for allowing the offense to get a chance to sprint out to the lead.

    OU punts, A&M scores to start second half

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Oklahoma punted for the first time in the game just a few minutes into the second half. It was an important stop for the A&M defense, which looked tired at the end of the first half.

    The Aggie offense then took the ball 91 yards on seven plays. The most exciting play was probably Johnny Manziel's eight-yard scamper where he avoided two tacklers with quick moves. A deep pass to Ryan Swope helped, too.

    The drive ended with a 7-yard TD run from Ben Malena to give the Aggies a 21-13 advantage with 10:26 left in the quarter. Manziel has 136 yards passing and 146 yards rushing.

    Landry Jones buys time, throws TD

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- With just 1:16 left in the half, Landry Jones scrambled on third-and-goal, got away from the pressure and made a nice pass to Justin Brown in the back of the end zone. The touchdown pulled Oklahoma within 14-13.

    Jones made it happen with his feet and his vision, always looking downfield to try to find an open receiver. The pass completed an impressive 13-play, 83-yard drive that took nearly five minutes.

    Outside of the interception, Jones has played well. He's 23-of-30 passing for 175 yards and the TD.

    INT helps set up Johnny Manziel TD

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Landry Jones never saw Dustin Harris dropping back in coverage as he fired a pass toward Sterling Shepard, and Harris intercepted the pass to end Oklahoma's drive midway through the second quarter.

    A pass from wideout Kenric McNeal on an end around allowed the Aggies to get 20 yards and Johnny Manziel ended up scampering in untouched for a five-yard touchdown, his second rushing TD of the night.

    The 48-yard drive took just 43 seconds, giving A&M a 14-6 lead as the clock slipped under five minutes left in the half.

    Landry Jones not trying to do too much

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- So far, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is doing a nice job of calmly looking for receivers on short routes and not forcing things. Despite a furious tempo -- as usual -- from both teams, when Jones passes he's content to take whatever A&M is giving up short and underneath.

    As the second quarter begins, the Sooners will have the ball at the A&M 41-yard line down 7-3 in the game.

    Jones is 11-for-13 for 82 yards and really hasn't attempted a deep ball. Give that time, of course. But he's done a nice job of finding open receivers and systematically moving his team down the field.

    OU drive stalls in odd sequence

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- For all the couch coaches out there, Oklahoma's staff made some interesting decisions that have Twitter buzzing.

    The Sooners marched down the field after Texas A&M scored on its opening possession and had a first-and-goal at the 5-yard line. On a run that put the ball to the 1-yard line, the Aggies were offsides. But rather than take the ball at the 2 1/2-yard line and get first down back, the Sooners declined the penalty. On second-and-goal, Blake Bell was stopped for no gain.

    After a Texas A&M timeout, Oklahoma had Bell roll out to his right to try a pass rather than just run it up the middle again. On fourth down, the Sooners appeared ready for Bell to try it up the middle again but a false start forced them to kick a field goal.

    Oklahoma's defense stopped A&M on the next drive and the Sooners have the ball back with under four minutes left in the half.

    Johnny Manziel already putting on a show

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas A&M Aggies wanted to get the ball in Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel's hands as soon as possible, taking the ball after they won the toss.

    It took Johnny Football just 2 minutes, 39 seconds to engineer a 75-yard TD drive to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead. It was capped by a 23-yard touchdown run that involved impressive athletic ability to stay in bounds, tight-roping down the sidelines.

    When Manziel's run was showed on the big screen as the officials looked at it, the Aggie fans let out a huge cheer as it was clear Manziel didn't step out of bounds. Manziel had 52 yards rushing and four yards passing on the drive.

    The Aggies have now scored on their first possession in 18 straight games.

    Some facts about SEC vs. Big 12 in Cotton Bowl

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- This is the 15th straight meeting in the current Cotton Bowl format of the Big 12 vs. SEC. And in this current series, the SEC is 9-5.

    That includes wins in eight of the last nine Cotton Bowl matchups for the SEC, starting in 2004. Only Missouri's win over Arkansas in 2008 kept the SEC from winning all of the last nine.

    Other notes:

    * If you consider current Big 12 teams, the last one to win the Cotton Bowl was Texas in 2003. The Longhorns beat LSU, 35-20.

    * Oklahoma has only played in one Cotton Bowl before tonight. That was in 2002, when the Sooners beat Arkansas, 10-3. The OU defense was solid, allowing Arkansas to reach Sooner territory twice the entire game. Oklahoma held Arkansas to just 50 yards in total offense (37 rushing yards, 13 passing yards).

    * Texas A&M has played in 12 Cotton Bowls, the last one coming in 2011 in a loss to LSU. The Aggies own a 4-8-0 record in the Cotton Bowl. Their last win was over Notre Dame in 1988.

    Cowboys Stadium roof will be closed

    January, 4, 2013
    PM CT
    ARLINGTON, Texas -- Cotton Bowl officials have decided to keep the roof at Cowboys Stadium closed for tonight's 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

    According to weather.com, the temperature in Arlington will be 48 degrees at kickoff. There is no rain in the forecast.

    As one Cotton Bowl official noted, bowl president Rick Baker has said in the past that the bowl waited 73 years to have a stadium with a roof and they plan to use it. So there you go.

    It should be a loud place tonight with plenty of red (though different shades) in the stands.