Other than the BCS national championship Monday, any of the other bowls this post-season would be thrilled to have the two teams that will play in the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma and Texas A&M each finished with 10-2 records and their four losses came to teams that finished a combined 44-4. Both the Sooners and the Aggies are in the top 11 of the final BCS standings, but there was no room at the inn for either when the at-large BCS bids were distributed.
"We hit a home run," Cotton Bowl chairman Tommy Bain said. "When our team selection committee met for the first time a few weeks ago, we circled this matchup as the one we most wanted, and the cards fell in our favor."
The story lines are juicy.
• In its first season after leaving the Big 12, Texas A&M is matched against one of the Big 12's flagship programs.
• The Aggies are led by quarterback Johnny Manziel, the first freshman to win a Heisman Trophy. He became the first SEC player and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season.
• Texas A&M first-year coach Kevin Sumlin spent time on coach Bob Stoops' OU staff. And in another coaching twist, the Aggies will be without offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who in mid-December was named head coach at Texas Tech, his alma mater.
• Oklahoma senior quarterback Landry Jones is closing out his career in the same place where it began when he had to step in as a rookie, replacing Sam Bradford when the Heisman winner was injured in the 2009 season opener against BYU.
Jones is the Sooners' career leader in passing yards, TD passes, wins (39), completions (1,353) and attempts (2,135). He is the first FBS quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons.
"Did we want to go to a BCS game? Absolutely, who doesn't want to go to a BCS game? But that's not the way it turned out for us," Jones said. "But if you look at all the other BCS games and, because of automatic qualifiers and those sorts of things, this might be one of the top two or three games in the country."
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M
Need to know: 7 p.m. Friday, Cowboys Stadium, FOX.
Team records: Oklahoma 10-2, Texas A&M 10-2.
The Sooners' two losses - to Kansas State and Notre Dame, teams with a combined 23-1 record - came down to about half a dozen pivotal plays. Oklahoma also was edged out of a BCS at-large bid. Those factors should provide plenty of incentive. Senior quarterback Landry Jones was playing his best over the last few games and the Sooners need the offense to retain that efficiency. Oklahoma's defense is talented but had problems in some of the key games. It will need to play at a high level to contain Texas A&M's high-powered offense. The Sooners' offense averages of 505.9 yards and 40.3 points per game while the defense allows 378.8 yards and 24.2 points per game.
Scouting Texas A&M
The Aggies caught lightning in a bottle with redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Heisman Trophy winner is a scrambling play maker who gave Texas A&M's offense a boost. Manziel passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while running for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. The offensive line is seasoned and talented. Freshman Mike Evans is the team's top receiver. Junior defensive end Damontre Moore, a consensus All-American, anchors a defense that fared well in the rugged Southeastern Conference.
Texas A&M is in the Cotton Bowl for the 13th time and have lost six consecutive appearances. The Aggies, 14-19 in bowl games, lost 41-24 to LSU following the 2010 season. ... In the last nine meetings between the teams, Oklahoma won eight. ... A win would giveBob Stoops 150 victories at Oklahoma, seven short of Barry Switzer's school record. ... Oklahoma defensive tackle Stacy McGee is suspended for the bowl game after he was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol on Christmas Eve. ... Oklahoma is 27-17-1 in bowl games and will be trying to match a school record with a fourth straight bowl win