Cotton Bowl 2011 LSU vs. Texas A&M: 10 Things You Need To Know

Adam Fromal@fromal09National NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 16, 2010

Cotton Bowl 2011 LSU vs. Texas A&M: 10 Things You Need To Know

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after their 43-36 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty I
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Cotton Bowl has been played for quite some time. The first game was played in 1937 when TCU beat Marquette 16-6.

    SInce then, the game has been played every single year. 

    Last season, Ole Miss beat Oklahoma State 21-7. This year, the teams competing for the title will be LSU and Texas A&M. 

    The game will be played on January 7th this year. 

    Read on to learn a little bit more about these two football teams. 

Cotton Bowl History

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 13:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers runs back an interception against the Louisiana Monroe Warhawks at Tiger Stadium on November 13, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty I
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    LSU has been to the Cotton Bowl four times in the bowl's lengthy history. 

    The first time was way back in 1947 when the Tigers squared off against Arkansas and both defenses dominated the game, which ended in a scoreless tie. 

    LSU's next appearance was in 1963 when the Tigers shut out the Texas Longhorns 13-0. 

    Three years later, in 1966, LSU returned to the Cotton Bowl in a rematch against Arkansas. The offenses played slightly better this time and LSU came out on top 14-7.

    It was a while until the next Cotton Bowl appearance, but in 2003 the Tigers got their rematch against Texas and fell this time 20-35. 

    All that adds up to a 2-1-1 record in the Cotton Bowl for LSU. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    The Aggies have an even longer Cotton Bowl history. 

    They played for the first time in 1941 when they defeated Fordham 14-13. In the following season, Alabama took them down 29-21. 

    It was quite some time until Texas A&M's next Cotton Bowl appearance, which came in 1968. In this game, they got vengeance for their 1942 loss by beating Alabama 20-16. 

    1986 started a stretch of three straight Cotton Bowl appearances for the Aggies. A 12-38 loss to Ohio State was bookended by a 36-16 win over Houston and a 35-10 victory against Notre Dame. 

    The next five Cotton Bowls in which Texas A&M appeared wouldn't go quite so well. The Aggies lost 2-10 to Florida State in 1992, 3-28 to Notre Dame in 1993, 21-24 to Notre Dame in 1994, 23-29 to UCLA in 1998 and 7-38 to Tennessee in 2005. 

    All that adds up to a 4-7 record in the Cotton Bowl for Texas A&M. 

Overall Bowl History

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    AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of Texas A&M passes against the University of Texas during the second half at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    LSU TIgers

    The Tigers have played in 42 bowl games in their programs history. Of those, they've won 22, lost 19 and tied one. 

    LSU's first bowl game came back in 1907 when they beat Havana University 56-0 in the Bacardi Bowl. 

    The last game though was a loss to Penn State in the Capital One Bowl last year. They've played in a bowl game every year since 2000, going 7-3 over that period. 

    Under Les Miles, the Tigers are 4-1 in bowl games. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    Texas A&M has played in quite a few less bowl games in their history and hasn't been too impressive in them. In their 31 bowl games, the Aggies only have 13 wins. 

    Their first bowl game was in 1921 when they beat Centre 22-14 in the Dixie Classic. Most recently, Texas A&M lost to Georgia 20-44 in the 2009 Independence Bowl. 

    This will only be the second straight year with a bowl game for the Aggies and only the second under head coach Mike Sherman's supervision.

This Season

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    LSU Tigers

    The Tigers are currently ranked No. 11 in the BCS Rankings, thanks to a perfect non-conference season and a very good SEC one. 

    LSU started off the year by beating a very good UNC team 30-24 and then won their next six games. In that stretch, they knocked off West Virginia and Florida among others. 

    Their first loss came at the hands of the Auburn Tigers in a close 24-17 game. 

    After beating Alabama 24-21 and blanking Louisiana-Monroe, the Tigers won a shootout against Mississippi and then fell to Arkansas 23-31 to end their regular season. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    The Aggies finished the regular season at No. 17 in the BCS Rankings, a result that probably surprised many people after they endured a rough stretch in the middle of the season. 

    Texas A&M won their first three games of the season quite easily, but then lost three straight games to Oklahoma State, Arkansas and Missouri. 

    After that, they went on a tear. The Aggies won their last six games, including victories over Oklahoma, Baylor and Nebraska. Those three wins all came in a row, which makes it even more impressive. 

Offensive Stats

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    COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 26: Tailback Cyrus Gray #32 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tripped up by a Texas Longhorns defender in the second half at Kyle Field on November 26, 2009 in College Station, Texas. The Longhorns defeated the Aggies 49-39. (Photo
    Aaron M. Sprecher/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    The Tigers are most definitely not an offense-first team, but when they do have the ball they win games with their running game more often than they do with the arms of their quarterbacks. 

    LSU ranks 107th in the country in passing yards, averaging just 155.4 yards per game through the air. Their ground game is much better, but still not elite. 

    Led by Stevan Ridley, the running game ranks 32nd in the country, averaging 179.2 yards per game. 

    As for points scored, LSU puts up 28.8 per game, placing them 50th in the country. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    Texas A&M has been a pretty balanced team all year. They rely on both their defense and their offense. When they have the ball, they also employ quite the balanced attack. 

    The Aggies' quarterbacks have averaged 281.8 yards per game through the air, placing them 18th in the country. 

    Their ground attack has put up 165.8 yards per game, the 37th best total in the nation. 

    As for points scored, Texas A&M has averaged 31.8 points per game, the 37th best total in the country. 

Defensive Stats

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers nearly intercepts a pass in the final seconds against Markeith Summers #16 and Korvic Neat #28 of the Ole Miss Rebels as time expired at Tiger Stadium on November
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    LSU TIgers

    The LSU defense has been quite good all year long. 

    They set the tone for the season in the first three weeks, holding UNC to 24 points, Vanderbilt to just a single field goal and Mississippi to seven points. 

    In one of their two losses, they still managed to keep Auburn in check, limiting Cam Newton and the Tigers to just 24 points. Auburn scored less than 24 points only once the entire season. 

    All in all, the Tigers have allowed just 17.8 points per game this year, the ninth lowest total in the country. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    Similar to LSU, the Texas A&M defense started out their 2010 campaign on a high note.

    In the first week of the season, the Aggies held Stephen F. Austin to just seven points. 

    The best defensive performances came in the second half of the season though. Texas A&M managed to hold the Oklahoma Sooners to just 19 points. 

    Two weeks later, they kept Nebraska's offense in check while winning the game 9-6 with nary a touchdown scored. 

    Overall, the Aggies have allowed just 20.3 points per game this year, the 27th best result in the nation. 

Quarterbacks

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Quarterback Jordan Jefferson #9 of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    Jordan Jefferson, the junior dual-threat quarterback, has essentially turned the team's quarterbacking job from a time-share between himself and Jarrett Lee into one where he gets almost all the snaps. 

    Jefferson has completed 108 of his 190 pass attempts this season for 1,253 yards and four touchdowns. He has also thrown nine interceptions this year. 

    On the ground, No. 9 has carried the ball 111 times, gaining 383 yards and finding the end zone six times. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    With the exception of a Week 1 blowout of Stephen F. Austin where Ryan Tannehill played some garbage time minutes, the current starting quarterback for the Aggies sat for the team's first six games. 

    After Jerrod Johnson led the team to three straight losses, Tannehill took over at quarterback and hasn't lost since. 

    The junior has completed 130 of his 199 passes, good for 65.3 percent. Those have resulted in 1,434 yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with his miniscule three interceptions. 

    He isn't really known for his legs, as can be shown by his 0.8 yards per carry average on 44 runs. Tannehill has scored once on the ground. 

Skill Positions

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    AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 27: Wide receiver Jeff Fuller #8 of the Texas A&M Aggies pulls in a touchdown pass against cornerback Deon Beasley #7 of the Texas Longhorns in the fourth quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium November 27, 2008 in Austin,
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    When Jordan Jefferson isn't running the ball himself, Stevan Ridley gets the carries. The junior is having a very impressive season. 

    Ridley has carried the pigskin 225 times for 1,024 yards and 14 touchdowns without a single fumble. 

    As for the receivers, Reuben Randle and Terrence Tolliver have been the top pass-catchers. The two have combined for 67 receptions, 1,763 yards and five touchdowns. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    Cyrus Gray took over as the featured back for the Aggies about halfway through the season and has been unstoppable since then. 

    He's carried the ball 180 times for 1,033 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with his 33 receptions for 242 yards and a touchdown. He also has yet to fumble the ball. 

    Gray has rushed for over 100 yards in his last six games while scoring 10 touchdowns over that span. His best game was against Baylor when he ran for 137 yards and four touchdowns. Most recently he burned Texas for 223 yards and two scores. 

    The Aggies' top two receivers have been Jeff Fuller, who has caught 65 passes for 983 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Ryan Swope, who has hauled in 67 balls for 780 yards and four scores. 

Defensive Players

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    BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 20:  Patrick Peterson #7 of the Louisiana State University Tigers reacts after their 43-36 win over the Ole Miss Rebels at Tiger Stadium on November 20, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    While the Tigers are stacked with good defensive players, one stands out above the rest. 

    Patrick Peterson, one of the cornerbacks, is having a fantastic season and was unanimously voted an All-American. The junior has made 36 tackles and picked off four passes this year. Morris Claiborne joins him in the secondary and has added another five interceptions.

    Kelvin Sheppard, a senior linebacker, leads the team with 108 tackles.

    Ryan Baker and Drake Nevis pace the team with six sacks apiece. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    The best defensive player for the Aggies is clearly Von Miller, the linebacker who just won the Butkus Award as the nation's best at his position. 

    Miller this year has 59 tackles, an interception and 11 sacks. Michael Hodges leads the team with 111 tackles.

    In the secondary, Dustin Harris has picked off four errant passes, returning one of them for a touchdown. 

Special Teams

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    ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 04:  Josh Jasper #30 of the LSU Tigers against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Georgia Dome on September 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    LSU Tigers

    Josh Jasper is the place kicker for LSU and has made 26 of his 31 field goal attempts. The senior has also knocked through 31 extra points in 32 tries. 

    Derek Helton is the primary punter for the Tigers although Jasper has punted as well. Helton, a senior as well, has punted 33 times, averaging 45.3 yards per kick. 

    Patrick Peterson has been one of the nation's best punt returners, taking back 26 punts for two touchdowns and an average of 16.0 yards per return. He's also taken back 29 kickoffs for an average of 29.3 yards per return. 

    Texas A&M Aggies

    Randy Bullock, a junior place kicker for the Aggies, has made just 15 of his 19 field goal attempts, but he's nailed all 47 of his extra point tries. 

    Ryan Epperson, a sophomore, has been the primary punter this year for Texas A&M. Epperson has punted 41 times, averaging 37.5 yards per kick. 

    Kenric McNeil, a sophomore wide receiver, has returned more punts than anyone else. McNeal's 24 returns though have only gone for an average of 5.8 yards. 

    Cyrus Gray and Coryell Judie have split time returning kickoffs this year. Gray has averaged 24.8 yards per return in 17 attempts while Judie has averaged 31.4 yards per return in 13 tries and has scored twice. 

Prediction

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    AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 25:  Quarterback Ryan Tannehill #17 of Texas A&M during the game against University of Texas in the first half at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2010 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Darren Carroll/Getty Images)
    Darren Carroll/Getty Images

    This should be one of the better bowl games of the 2010-2011 bowl season as the Aggies' offense faces a true test in LSU's stout defense. 

    In the end, Ryan Tannehill, Jeff Fuller and Cyrus Gray will prove to be too much for Les Miles' team to stop. 

    The offense is just too multi-dimensional for the Tigers to stop on a consistent basis.

    On the flip side, LSU will have trouble scoring against a very good, dare I say SEC-quality, defense. I just don't feel like Jordan Jefferson is a good enough passer to give Von Miller and the Aggies fits. 

    Prediction: Texas A&M Aggies

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