The 2012 Cotton Bowl will pit the No. 7-ranked Texas A&M Aggies against the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. If the Aggies are able to defeat their former conference foe, it will give them a lot of momentum and a likely top-five ranking heading into 2013.
Bowl games are almost an entirely separate season from the regular season. There is a 41-day break between the Aggies game against Missouri and the Cotton Bowl. To put that in perspective, the Aggies' spring practice only lasts 29 days.
This break can affect teams in many ways. Often teams with outstanding offenses struggle to maintain their timing and momentum during the break. This can often lead to ugly, defensively dominated bowl games.
The Aggies need to beat Oklahoma in order to gain some momentum as they head into the 2013 season. This is a look at how a win will impact the Ags' preseason ranking.
A win on January 4th would get the year started off right for the Aggies football program. The momentum created by a bowl win is always positive for a program.
The former students feel a little better about donating money to the athletic department. A bowl win creates some momentum for the program as it heads into national signing day in February.
The Cotton Bowl will be nationally broadcast on January 4th, so there will be a large number of recruits and future recruits watching the game. Recruits want to play for winners, especially the teams that win on a big stage.
A win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl would give the Aggies momentum as they head into the new year.
The Ags are currently ranked No. 9 in the BCS poll. A convincing win over OU in the Cotton Bowl coupled with some losses ahead of them could see A&M climb as high as five or six in the final poll.
With offensive stars like Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans returning, the Aggies will receive a lot of preseason love from the magazines and national publications. If juniors Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Damontre Moore decide to pass on the NFL draft, then A&M could make a serious run for the national title in 2013.
If A&M beats OU and all of the juniors return then they will be ranked in the top five of most 2013 preseason polls.
There are a lot of factors that go into winning a national championship. It helps when you start off the season ranked in the top 10. If the Aggies enter the season ranked in the top 10, they can lose a Southeastern Conference game and still end up in the BCS game.
If the Aggies lose to OU, it will cause doubt about the program and its future. A loss to OU will likely cause the Ags to be ranked outside of the top 10 to start 2013. That could affect their ability to ultimately win a national title.
Alabama is playing in the BCS title game because it entered the preseason ranked in the top five. Florida is not playing in the national title game because they entered the season barely in the Top 25.
The Cotton Bowl will be viewed by a national television audience including athletic directors from around the country. A good showing by the Aggies on either side of the ball will highlight the assistant coaches on the A&M staff.
Clarence McKinney will be calling the offensive plays for A&M now that Kliff Kingsbury has moved on to Texas Tech. If the Ags have their typical offensive showing, it will raise McKinney's profile in national coaching circles.
Athletic directors and head coaches from around the country could become interested in adding McKinney to their staff. A&M needs to keep their staff together in order to establish themselves as an elite program. In some ways, winning the Cotton Bowl will make that harder.
OU is the co-conference champion of the Big 12 along with Kansas State. The Aggies are the second- or third-best team in the SEC West, depending on whom you ask.
If the Ags beat Oklahoma, it will leave no doubt that the SEC is the best conference in the country.
The SEC is the toughest conference in the country. The strength of the conference is important, because it affects how others view conference losses.
The Aggies are 10-2 on the season with losses to two top-10 teams in LSU and Florida. By beating OU, the Ags will remind everyone that the SEC is superior to the Big 12. That will leave an impression on the voters who rank teams in the preseason, who might otherwise have been swayed by the Ags' two losses in 2012.