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The Cotton Bowl is one of the oldest bowl games that we, the college football betting nation, has a chance to catch on an annual basis. This year, two old division rivals meet up in Arlington, as the LSU Tigers try to tame the Texas A&M Aggies.
Cotton Bowl Matchup: Texas A&M Aggies vs. LSU Tigers
Date: Friday, January 6th, 8:00 ET
Location: Dallas Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
Cotton Bowl Line: LSU -2
Aggies Notes: This season really changed on the heels of arguably the most important decision of the entire NCAA football betting campaign. Head Coach Mike Sherman decided that he was going to bench the man that was a Heisman Trophy candidate once upon a time in QB Jerrod Johnson. All of a sudden when QB Ryan Tannehill took over, A&M went on a tear, covering the college football odds in its last six games, all of which ended in Aggies' outright victories. Tannehill, a junior, is going to be ready to lead this team to bigger and better next year. He threw for 1,434 yards and 11 TDs against just three picks. He doesn't quite have the legs that Johnson had, but RB Cyrus Gray made up for that. Gray rumbled for 1,033 yards and a dozen scores on the campaign. What we have to remember is that this team lost RB Christine Michael relatively early in the year after he rushed for 631 yards. Watch out for WR Jeff Fuller and WR Ryan Swope in this one. Fuller had 65 catches for 983 yards on the year with a dozen TDs, while Swope had 67 catches for 780 yards and four scores. Defensively, Sherman's bunch really came on strong as well at the end of the year. The team ultimately only allowed 356.8 yards and 20.3 yards per game.
Tigers Notes: The Bayou Bengals have a lot of work to do in the locker room right now. Head Coach Les Miles is being connected in the media to the job available with the Michigan Wolverines, and though he is denying any interest right now, it is clearly going to be causing a distraction in Arlington on Friday night. RB Stevan Ridley, the heart and soul of this offense, was listed as "out" for this game just two weeks ago, but now, he is considered "probably eligible" for the game. Assuming that he gets his academics in order before this one kicks off, Ridley is going to be the man to watch out for when LSU is on offense. He carried the ball 225 times this year for 1,043 yards and 14 scores this year, and he is capable of being a huge force in this one against A&M. If he either can't go or isn't effective, there is a major problem under center that must be worked out. QB Jordan Jefferson and QB Jarrett Lee only threw for a combined 1,826 yards and just six scores against 10 picks between them. It's amazing that LSU won as many games as it did this year, but when you look at its defense, you can see why the Tigers have been so dangerous. The Bayou Bengals held teams to just 297.2 yards and 17.8 points per game this year, numbers which are absolutely remarkable considering how difficult the SEC West turned out to be this year.
The Final Word: The Aggies know that they are in great shape in this game, especially if there is really some inner turmoil with the Tigers. The reps from the Big XII are going to want to pick up a huge win, and if the offenses start to get going, this is going to be a big problem for LSU. The defense is the key to the game for the Bayou Bengals, and if A&M finds a way to keep the ball moving up the field, regardless of whether or not it is scoring all that many points, we could be in line for an upset, especially with the slight home field advantage coming for the Aggies.
Cotton Bowl Free Pick: Texas A&M +2.5
Cotton Bowl Prediction: Texas A&M 26 – LSU 24