Horns Still Eyeing New Year's Day Bowl

The Cotton Bowl or the Gator Bowl is the most likely consolation prize for a 9-3 Texas team that was in the thick of the BCS national title race just three weeks ago, according to UT sources. Both bowls are New Year's Day venues.

Typically, the Cotton Bowl has the first pick of Big 12 Conference's non-BCS bowl teams. However, the conference's new affiliation with the Gator Bowl allows the Jacksonville, Florida venue to make its selection before the Cotton Bowl once every four years if only one Big 12 school secures a BCS bowl bid. It is generally expected that the Big 12 will land just one BCS team this season.

If Oklahoma beats Nebraska Saturday in Kansas City, it is widely believed that Cotton Bowl officials would take the Cornhuskers primarily because it has been five years since the Dallas site has invited a team from the Big 12 North. Texas, of course, was a Cotton Bowl participant following the 1998, 1999 and 2002 seasons. The Big 12 representative would face a Southeastern Conference team, probably either Auburn or Arkansas, at 10 a.m. (CST).

A Nebraska win would likely leave Gator Bowl officials to decide between Texas and Oklahoma. Gator Bowl officials have been to at least four Texas home games this season, including the 12-7 loss to Texas A&M. The Big 12 representative would face an at-large ACC team, probably either Virginia Tech or the loser of the Georgia TechWake Forest game Saturday.

Oklahoma obviously finished stronger than Texas and, at No. 8/12, is rated higher in this week's major wire service polls. However, Texas can hang its hat on the fact that it beat both Oklahoma and Nebraska this season, plus a defending national champion is always a strong calling card. Oklahoma's previous Gator Bowl experience was in 1991; Texas' only Gator Bowl appearance was in 1974 and resulted in a 27-3 loss to Auburn.

It appears that Texas A&M is headed to the Holiday Bowl in San Diego to face California. It would mean that the Big 12 team snubbed by both the Cotton Bowl and the Gator Bowl would drop to the Alamo Bowl to face Iowa.

All bowl selections will be made official Sunday, December 3.

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