Headed to Dallas

A 10-2 season turned into a Cotton Bowl berth for LSU.

It didn’t come as a surprise to LSU fans, but Sunday’s news made it official that the Tigers were headed to Dallas for the 75th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Jan. 7. The game will be televised to a national audience on FOX.

The bout features No. 11 LSU vs. No. 18 Texas A&M, but the two sides have been on different bowl paths in the past decade.

LSU will be making its school-record 11th straight appearance in a bowl game, a streak that dates back to the 2000 Peach Bowl. In his five bowl seasons head coach Les Miles has posted a 4-1 record, which includes a pair of wins in BCS bowls. His lone loss came to Penn State last season.

Mike Sherman and the Aggies are 9-3 overall and will be in search of their first bowl win since a victory over TCU in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl in Houston in 2001. Texas A&M met a Southeastern Conference team in bowl season last year, where they were on the losing end of a 44-20 decision Georgia in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport.

This season, a rivalry is renewed.

Though they haven’t met since 1995, the meeting will be the 50th between the two sides. LSU and Texas A&M met every year from 1986 through 1995, and it will be the second time the pair have squared off in a bowl game.

“I’m excited and I know that our players are excited about this opportunity,” Miles said. “Texas A&M has an outstanding program and we are looking forward to renewing our longstanding rivalry with them.”

The matchup has plenty of storylines, one being a border war.

Recruits from both states will have a close eye on the action, and playing in the backyard of both fanbases has already proved its worth.

“We formally announced Texas A&M last week and the phone lines started to light up like a Christmas tree,” Rick Baker, President of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic said. “With the announcement of LSU and the game now being a sellout, I couldn’t imagine a better way to celebrate 75 years.”

Brian Broussard, LSU’s assistant athletic director for ticket operations, said that over 15,000 ticket requests are already in.

“We have sold every ticket that we’ve been given, so I know that our fans are excited about renewing our rivalry with Texas A&M in one of the great bowl games in college football,” LSU Director of Athletics and Vice Chancellor Joe Alleva said.

LSU and Texas A&M first met on the football field in 1899, and the Tigers lead the overall series 26-20-3.

For Miles, the trip is his second. While it wasn’t a weekend at Jerry’s World, Miles and his Oklahoma State squad trekked to Dallas in 2003.

“I’ve been here before as a head coach so I know firsthand what a first-class bowl this is,” he said. “The hospitality is second to none and the atmosphere is no different than if you were playing in the national championship game.”

According to the Classic’s Chairman Tommy Bain, the sold out matchup of cross state rivals makes this season’s Cotton Bowl one of the best in recent memory.

“This was one of those years where everything really fell into place,” Bain said. “LSU formally accepted our invitation today, and the Tigers took all the remaining tickets to make the 75th Classic a hard sellout.

“I can’t wait to see the atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium in primetime on January 7th.”

Alleva said of the excitement over the selection: “Once it looked like we were out of the running for a BCS bowl game, we turned our attention to Dallas and getting into the Cotton Bowl.”

Not long ago the wish was a BCS berth, but a loss to Arkansas kept the Tigers from 11 wins and spoiled a trip to New Orleans in the process.

And while the Capital One, Outback, and Chick-Fil-A Bowl were all thrown around as possibilities over the past couple of weeks, Sunday’s Dallas result is a win for the Tigers.

“This is the bowl that our players and coaches wanted to play in,” Alleva said.

Translation: at least it’s not Orlando.

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