Big 12 Bowl Central
Need to know: 7 p.m., Jan. 7, Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, FOX.
Team records: Texas A&M 9-3, LSU 10-2.
Story lines: Texas A&M and LSU will help the Cotton Bowl celebrate its 75th anniversary with the first prime-time game in the bowl’s history.
The Aggies finished the season on a six-game winning streak and finished in a three-way tie in the Big 12 South division. However, both Texas A&M and LSU will take the field 44 days after playing their last game. It will be interesting to see which team will be the first to scrape off the rust.
Texas A&M’s winning streak coincided with the decision to replace senior quarterback Jerrod Johnson – the Big 12’s preseason offensive player of the year – with Ryan Tannehill. That position switch seemed to energize the Aggies.
"I had been waiting a long time for it,” said Tannehill, a junior who is 5-0 as A&M’s starting QB. "When the opportunity came up, and I got in the position to play, I finally realized it was my time to shine. I just had to take advantage of it.
"Not one person was going to change this team. Everybody started making plays."
LSU’s strength has been its defense, which is led by junior All-American corner back Patrick Peterson. He won the Bednarik Award, which is given to the nation’s top defensive player. Peterson had four interceptions and is also a dangerous punt returner with two returns for touchdowns.
Texas A&M update
Junior running back Cyrus Gray announced this week that he is returning for his senior season. Gray has six consecutive games with 100 or more rushing yards and Texas A&M’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Courtney Lewis gained 1,024 yards in 2003. … The Aggies last faced LSU in 1994, an 18-13 victory in Baton Rouge. … Ryan Swope, A&M’s second-leading receiver, suffered a sprained left foot during bowl practice but he said he’ll be 100 percent for the game. … Texas A&M quarterbacks coach Tom Rossley, who coached SMU from 1991-96 and still has strong ties to the Dallas area, was happy when the Aggies were chosen for the Cotton Bowl. His three children and their seven grandchildren live in the Dallas area.
Stephen Ridley, the Tigers’ leading rusher with 1,042 yards and 14 touchdowns, had his eligibility reinstated by the NCAA this week and will play in the Cotton Bowl. He was suspended because of academic issues. … The Tigers’ passing game has struggled, ranking 107th in FBS. Quarterback Jordan Jefferson has thrown for four touchdowns and nine interceptions. The Tigers finished 6-2 in the Southeastern Conference West Division. LSU’s two losses came to Auburn (24-17) and Arkansas (31-23). Both teams earned berths in BCS games.