Unless the NCAA throws a bone to Les Miles, the LSU Tigers will be playing without the services of star running back Stevan Ridley in the 2011 AT&T Cotton Bowl.
Coach Miles spoke to the media today, announcing that Ridley committed a one-time academic violation that would make him ineligible for the team's battle with Texas A&M.
Miles failed to go into details about the violation but did say his program is appealing to the mighty NCAA.
Played in Cowboy Stadium on January 7th, this year's version of the Cotton Bowl is shaping up to be one of the most competitive, defensive-focused bowl games of the season.
The Tigers are entering the game at 10-2 and ranked No. 11 in the BCS standings.
The Aggies returned to their historical form with a 9-3 record and are currently ranked No. 17.
Ridley has been the most productive, consistent offensive weapon for the Tigers all season. The junior running back has rushed for 1,042 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2010.
Miles will now look for Michael Ford and dual-threat quarterback Jordan Jefferson to pick up the slack.
Putting pressure on Jefferson to throw the ball more frequently could be a concern. The Tiger quarterback is completing 56.8 percent of his passes with four touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season. A freshman from Louisiana, Ford has been impressive, averaging 6.7 yards per carry with 259 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
The Tiger offense will need help as they face a stingy Aggie defense. Jefferson and company are only averaging 28.8 points per game on the season.
Led by Dick Butkus award winner Von Miller, the Aggie defense is allowing an average of 20.3 points per contest.
With a strong Tiger defense and the loss of Ridley, the Cotton Bowl should be a hard-nosed defensive battle struggle.
If the NCAA allows Ridley to suit up, the Christmas wishes of Miles and Tiger nation will have been granted.
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