What was rumored for a week and considered almost a foregone conclusion once Texas A&M snared the opposite spot finally came to fruition Sunday.
LSU and the Aggies are ready to renew an old gridiron grudge match that has sat dormant for 15 seasons.
The 11th-ranked Tigers (10-2) and No. 18 Texas A&M (9-3) will tangle in the 75th Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Jan. 7. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. that Friday and is the only bowl game on that date.
Played at the home of the Jerry Jones-owned Dallas Cowboys, the bowl game is the renewal of a series that dates back to 1899 but hasn’t been played since the 1995 season opener.
LSU and the Aggies have played 49 times, but the series stopped after 1995 for a variety of reasons — and depending on who you ask about it.
There have been rumblings for years that LSU officials not only backed out of the series after losing a fifth straight game to the Aggies, but also have not paid a beefy withdrawal fee contractually required to end the series.
Regardless of what bad blood might remain, the Tigers and A&M don’t have to worry about contracts or money owed 32 days from now. The only thing on the menu will be football in a stadium considered one of the largest and most opulent in the world.
Cowboys Stadium is also the site of Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 6 and is where LSU will open the 2011 season when it tangles with Oregon on Sept. 3.
“This will be a wonderful setting to showcase our talents in prime time with two really good teams,” said LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson, who will likely play his final game for the Tigers. He is projected as a top-10 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, especially with our fans coming into ‘Jerry World.’ I am looking forward to it, and I can’t wait until we get down there after New Year’s. I want our fans to come out too. It will be a blast for them.”
Tailback Stevan Ridley added: “Playing in the Cotton Bowl in Cowboys Stadium is going to be an awesome experience. Any time you play a team outside your conference, especially a team the caliber of Texas A&M, it gets you fired up. They come from a competitive conference in the Big 12, and I’m sure they will pack the place with their fans nearby. I hope our fans can grab up some tickets too. It’s going to be a special experience playing in a stadium that size.”
LSU is in the Cotton Bowl for the fifth time overall and the first time since losing to Texas 35-20 on Jan. 1, 2003. This is the Aggies’ 11th appearance, their first since a 38-7 drubbing at the hands of Tennessee on New Year’s Day in 2004.
The fact both tradition-rich programs were available made the matchup irresistible to the bowl organizers.
“This was one of those years where everything really fell into place,” Cotton Bowl Chairman Tommy Bain said.
“I can’t wait to see the atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium in prime time on Jan. 7.”
The anticipation began building among LSU fans for a potential Cotton Bowl bid after the regular season ended with a 31-23 loss at Arkansas, halting the Tigers’ hopes for a BCS bowl berth. Then when A&M officials announced last week they had accepted a Cotton bid, the anticipation turned into a frenzy.
Brian Broussard, LSU’s assistant athletic director of ticket operations, said last week that Tigers’ fans had requested about 15,000 tickets for the Cotton Bowl — 2,500 more than each school is allotted.
“We sold every ticket we had to this game, and they went quick,” Broussard said. “There is obviously a lot of excitement about going to play in the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M.”
Cotton Bowl President Rick Baker added: “We formally announced Texas A&M last week, and the phone lines started to light up like a Christmas tree. With the announcement of LSU and the game now being a sellout, I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate 75 years.”
The excitement certainly isn’t limited to the fans who figure to flock to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
LSU coach Les Miles takes a second team to the Cotton Bowl. His 2003 Oklahoma State club squared off with an Eli Manning-led Ole Miss team in 2003 with the Rebels claiming a 31-28 triumph.
Miles is taking LSU to a sixth bowl game in a row, part of a school-record 11-year bowl streak. The Tigers are 4-1 in bowls under Miles after a 19-17 loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl last year.
“The Cotton Bowl is one of the all-time great college bowl games, and to be able to participate in what is the 75th anniversary of this legendary game will be special for our team,” Miles said. “The hospitality is second to none, and the atmosphere is no different than if you were playing in the national championship game.
“I’m excited, and I know that our players are excited about this opportunity. Texas A&M has an outstanding program, and we are looking forward to renewing our longstanding rivalry with them.”
This will be the 50th meeting between the two programs in football. LSU leads the series 26-20-3 and won the only other bowl meeting: 19-14 in the 1944 Orange Bowl.
The Tigers have won 10 or more games for the 10th time in school history and are seeking a fourth year with 11 wins or more under Miles.
Texas A&M is coached by Mike Sherman, who spent six years as the coach of the Green Bay Packers (2000-05) before returning to College Station, where he was an assistant three times under Aggies’ coaching legend R.C. Slocum.
A&M’s 9-3 record is the best of three seasons under Sherman, and the Aggies are seeking to end a five-game bowl losing streak that dates back to a 28-9 triumph against TCU in the 2001 Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston. They have lost their past three bowl meetings with SEC foes, with Independence Bowl losses to Mississippi State (2000) and Georgia (2009) sandwiched around the loss to Tennessee on their last visit to the Cotton Bowl.
The Aggies shared the Big 12 Conference South Division championship with Oklahoma State and Oklahoma this season despite a rough midseason stretch. The Aggies’ three losses came consecutively Sept. 30-Oct. 16 to Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri — three teams that take 10-2 records into their bowl games. Texas A&M bounced back to notch wins in November against both Oklahoma (33-19) and Nebraska (9-6), the two teams that played for the Big 12 crown Saturday.
Texas A&M finished the regular season with a sixth consecutive victory by outlasting bitter rival Texas 24-17 on Thanksgiving night, a win that helped punch a ticket to the Cotton Bowl.
“The matchup with LSU presents a great challenge against a very talented and well-coached opponent,” said Sherman, who was an assistant when the Aggies played in three straight Cotton Bowls from 1992-94. “Our players are very aware of the Tigers’ success and look forward to this game.
“Playing in the same stadium which will host the Super Bowl soon after our game allows our players to experience a unique national spotlight in one of the best venues in all of sports.”
It's going to be a very exciting game… I can't wait!!! Be sure to check out LSU vs. Texas A&M: At a glance and the LSU Bowl History for all the numbers.
I think the best part about LSU playing the Aggies again is that we can bring back all of the old Aggies jokes!!! Such as…
- Did you hear about the Aggie terrorist who tried to blow up the LSU team bus? He burned his lip on the tailpipe.
- What is the difference between the Aggies and Rice Crispies? Rice Crispies know what to do in a bowl.
- How many Aggies does it take to screw in a light bulb? One, but he gets 3 hours credit.
- Did you hear about the skeleton they found in a closet in one of the dorms at A&M? It was the 1963 hide-and-go-seek champion!
- Why don't Aggies eat barbecue beans? Because they keep falling through the holes in the grill.
- How many Aggies does it take to eat an armadillo? Two. One to do the eating, and one to watch for cars.