On November 24, 2011 it appeared a long chapter in the history of two of college football’s most storied teams had come to an end as the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies took to Kyle Field for their final Big XII Conference match-up.
The Longhorns outlasted the Aggies 27-25, on the back of a fourth quarter drive by Texas backup QB Case McCoy which led to a last-second game winning field goal by kicker Justin Tucker, now the kicker for the Baltimore Ravens.
As the kick sailed through the uprights, many assumed– reasonably so– it would be some time before the Aggies and Longhorns squared off again on the gridiron.
Although the two teams have had very divergent paths in terms of their schedules this season, their records could play out in such a way that officials from the legendary Cotton Bowl game in Dallas could consider pairing the Aggies and Longhorns against one another on Friday, January 4th at Texas Stadium.
As it stands, teams chosen to participate in the Cotton Bowl are an “anchor institution” from the Big 12 and typically a divisional champion or equivalent from the SEC.
From the Cotton Bowl website:
Once the selection process has been completed by the Bowl Championship Series, the Classic receives its choice of Big 12 members.
The SEC will provide a division champion, a division runner-up, a team with a comparable record or a mutually agreed upon team as the Big 12′s opponent.
As it stands in the Big XII, the Kansas State Wildcats are almost certain to retain an invite to a Bowl Championship Series game– possibly the national championship– as long as they run the table and Collin Klein‘s concussion isn’t more substantial than we have been led to believe.
At 6-2 overall (4-1 in conference play), the Oklahoma Sooners should enjoy a first-tier bowl invite with a strong finish, and historically haven’t been a target of the Cotton Bowl, playing in the game only once in 2002, a 10-3 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
This leaves Texas.
Should the Texas Longhorns finish the regular season 9-3– which seems like the most reasonable outcome given wins over the Iowa State Cyclones and TCU Horned Frogs, and a loss to Kansas State– they would be a perfect fit as the Big 12′s representative.
Texas A&M’s path to the Cotton Bowl isn’t necessarily as clear cut given the murky SEC race which could turn on a dime this Saturday, as the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide.
With games against Sam Houston State and the Missouri Tigers left on the schedule, it’s reasonable to assume the Aggies will finish the regular season at least 9-3– this given a loss to Alabama– and fit the mold of a division runner-up or “equivalent”.
If Texas is given the first bid to the Cotton Bowl, and has the right to choose the Aggies, should any of us really believe they would pass up the opportunity to do so?
Sure, it may be the teams want to stay separated for a while to continue along their own paths, but there will always be a pull– and the potential profitability that comes along with it– to face off when the opportunity presents itself.
This may be too much to deny if that opportunity comes in January 2013.
Kris is also the host Rant Sports Radio on the Blog Talk Radio Network Wednesday evenings at 8 Central Time.