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Saturday, January 8, 2011
Instant analysis: LSU 41, Texas A&M 24

By David Ubben

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The only matchup of the bowl season between the Big 12 and the SEC goes to the SEC. After LSU's 41-24 win over Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, the SEC has now won six of the past seven.

How the game was won: LSU ran all over Texas A&M's defense for 60 minutes, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill tossed three interceptions, equaling his total from the past six games of Texas A&M's season, when he moved from receiver to starting quarterback. The Tigers easily topped 250 yards on the ground, and hit on a pair of deep balls for touchdowns.

Turning point: Michael Hodges' injury. It was hardly the only reason why the Aggies couldn't stuff the run, but Texas A&M lost its leading tackler and middle linebacker to a right knee injury early in the game, and never regained the physical defensive play it became known for during its six-game winning streak.

Stat of the game: LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson threw three touchdown passes. The Tigers had thrown seven touchdown passes in 12 games this season entering the Cotton Bowl.

Player of the game: Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU. The 6-foot-5, 203-pound senior went out in style, hauling in three touchdown catches to tie an LSU bowl record, including a pair of deep balls over the middle for 41- and 42-yard touchdowns.

Record performance: Friday's crowd of 83,514 was the second-most in Cotton Bowl history, behind the 2009 game between Texas Tech and Ole Miss, the last Cotton Bowl game in the Cotton Bowl stadium.

Record performance II: Texas A&M running back Cyrus Gray became the first Aggies running back since Darren Lewis in 1988 to rush for 100 yards in seven consecutive games.

What it means: Texas A&M's big finish to the regular season won't end with a bang, but they do finish 9-4 despite the loss. The Aggies won nine games for just the second time since 1998. The Big 12, meanwhile, finishes an underwhelming 3-5 in bowl games after a favorable draw. Of the five ranked Big 12 teams playing, Texas A&M was the only one matched up against a ranked opponent.