The Cotton Bowl: Comparing LSU With Texas A&M To See Who Will Win the Game
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This years Cotton Bowl is being played in the new Cowboys Stadium "Home of the Dallas Cowboys" which is also the site of the 2011 Super Bowl. But, this year's Cotton Bowl promises to be one of the best match ups of all of the Bowl Games.
These are two teams are very equally matched teams on both sides of the ball and they are old rivals that have a long history of playing each other since 1899.
LSU leads the overall series 26-20-3, but A & M has won the last 5 meeting between the two schools.
It was under Coach Curley Hallman, that the LSU Football Program suffered through one of it's worst 5 years under any coach, and Texas A & M was one of the old foes right there helping to put a lot of the misery on the LSU Tigers in those days.
However, in 1999 the LSU Tigers got their program headed in an upward spiraling manner under Nick Saban's direction and the LSU Tigers Program went right to the Top or Pinnacle of College Football as they won their first BCS Title in 2003 under Nick Saban.
Since that time, LSU has continued to be one of the elite programs in the SEC and nation under the direction of present coach Les Miles as the Tigers won their 2nd BCS Title in 2007 and they became the first team to win two BCS Titles.
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Contrary wise, Texas A & M went in the opposite direction and it was not until this year that the Aggies under coach Mike Sherman have turned their program around and they are now also headed upward to the top again.
All of these things will make this a hard hitting and very competitive game, and it appears that whoever makes the least mistakes or plays best on special teams will come out as the winner.
THE LSU TIGERS
Beginning in the season's opening game in the Chick-Fil-la Kickoff Classic, LSU showed themselves as a very talented team that is capable of doing a lot of big things, but they also revealed a very talented but young and inexperienced defense.
Even though the Tigers zoomed out to a 30-10 half time lead in the Chick-Fil-la Classic, their defense showed it's inexperience as they gave up some very large plays and allowed an undermanned UNC team to force LSU to win the game on the last play of the game.
Since then though this speedy LSU defense has grown and matured and they have gotten much more comfortable with Coach John Chavis's defense as they led the SEC in almost every category for most of the season. They still lead in pass defense and they are near the top in total defense.
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With experienced and talented defensive players like Patrick Peterson, Kelvin Sheppard, and Drake Nevis, plus many talented new comers, this LSU defense is the main reason why LSU has won most of it's games.
One of the early defensive exploits of note was the way the LSU defense just shut down Miss State in the second half with 5 interceptions with pressure and blitz packages, as LSU ended up giving MSU a 29-7 loss which is their most one sided defeat of the 2010 season.
LSU seems to play best against those teams that present a balance attack with a pocket passing quarterback and a base running attack. A good example would be Alabama, where LSU held Alabama to just about the LSU Team average for defensive yards allowed and consequently LSU was victorious.
But overall, it was the play of this very fast and talented LSU defense that has these LSU Tigers in position to have their 4th eleven win season under Coach Les Miles with a victory in this year's Cotton Bowl.
In the Chick-Fil-la Kick Off Classic, it was the LSU offense that sprung out to a 30-10 half time lead and it appeared the Tigers would run away with this game in the second half.
In fact it was in the UNC game that Jordan Jefferson threw one of his most impressive touchdown passes when he completed a 51 yard pass to Ruben Randle.
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However, Jefferson began to regress again from that game and it was not until deep in the season against Alabama that he threw another Touchdown pass.
Week after week, the LSU offense became nonproductive and one dimensional because the absence of a passing attack. Most LSU opponents seized the opportunity to stop LSU's running attack and force Jordan Jefferson to throw.
But, some how, LSU's running game offense was able to do just enough to pull out the victories.
Then, in the Tennessee Game Coach Les Miles felt he had to make some changes at quarterback, , so he began to give Jared Lee some reps in the games and LSU suddenly found its self with a two quarterback system. Under Lee LSU was able to pull off last minute victories against Tennessee and Florida.
Then in the Alabama game Jordan Jefferson suddenly awoke and had his best overall game of the season as he led LSU to a very satisfying victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide coached by former LSU Coach Nick Saban.
But, just when you felt Jefferson had finally found his confidence and control, he again went back to his old ways in the Arkansas game.
It has always been said that LSU is one good quarterback away from playing in the BCS National Championship Game.
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If LSU is to win the Cotton Bowl, Jordan Jefferson simply must play a good game and execute the LSU offense to perfection and have zero mistakes.
THE TEXAS A & M AGGIES:
No matter what the Aggie offense has been able to accomplish offensively, it looks like the A & M defense has had a lot to say about the position they find themselves in with the 2011 Cotton Bowl.
Currently, Texas A&M is ranked as the 14th best rushing defense in the country and that can mean real trouble for the LSU offense as LSU has obvious struggles in the passing game. The running attack has become LSU's mainstay for offensive production.
Knowing that LSU has been struggling mightly in the quarterback position, the Aggies will most likely try to stop the Tiger running game and make Jefferson beat them passing.
Even though the Aggies have focused on their celebrated All American and Butkus Award winning Linebacker, Von Miller, they apparently have many other very capable defensive players especially against the run.
So, this rugged Texas A & M defense will sorely test the Tigers and force them to present an effective balanced attack if they plan to beat them. However, the good news for LSU is that the Aggies have given up some big yardage at times to the Pass and also a couple of games to the run.
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But, LSU has a formidable running game as well so I will expect them to present one of the biggest test that A&M has seen this year.
Of all the Non Conference teams that LSU plays, these Texas A & M Aggies are more similar to the rugged defenses that LSU has faced in the SEC where speed plays a big part.
In fact, with the conference realignments that were happening last year, it was Texas A & M that seriously flirted with becoming a member of the SEC. It may still happen in the future, but only time will tell.
This year Texas A & M offense has really become the story of the year in turn-arounds for College Football teams.
The Aggies started out with an All Star in Jerrod Johnson as he was all conference and even being mentioned as a possible Heisman Ward candidate.
But, when the Aggies struggled early with a 3 game loss and 9 interceptions by Johnson, Coach Mike Sherman made one of the most gutsy decision ever made to bench Jerrod Johnson and put untested Ryan Tennehill in at quarterback.
But, that decision has paid so many large dividends for the Aggie program and they have not lost since he made that change.
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Personally, I saw that as a verification of what kind of coach that Coach Sherman really is. I often wonder what would have happened is Jarred Lee had been handed the reins as the starting quarterback while benching ineffective Jordan Jefferson.
Even though Ryan Tannehill has blossomed into a great leader as the quarterback, the Aggie offense is by no means totally dependent on the passing arm of Tannehill.
With a 1,000 yard rusher like Cyrus Grey and others, these Aggies have more than delivered their share to the Aggies winning ways.
So, if LSU is to win this game they will have to be weary of both the running and passing game of the Texas A & M Aggies. It looks like the Aggies can beat your both ways and the LSU Tigers are going to have to play one of their most complete games to come out of Dallas with the W.
I look for one of those hard fought, hard hitting, competitive games and the team that plays up to it's capabilities and makes the least mistakes should win this game.
These two teams look like two very similar defensive teams, but the quarterback advantage definitely goes to Texas A & M. LSU must hope that the same Jordan Jefferson that played in the Alabama game will show up for the Cotton Bowl.
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LSU has been to the mountain top and many of these same players were around when LSU won it's last BCS Title in 2007, plus these Tigers have played some very tough games this year as they beat all three of the New Years day teams that won yesterday.
Texas A&M is still a new comer trying to climb the big mountain and return to greatness.
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