History: There is none. Sure, you can talk about all the great Cotton Bowls that have graced these sacred grounds, but that game has been moved to Arlington this year. The message: Jerry Jones is evil incarnate.
So, let’s talk about the locale- the Cotton Bowl is located right in the middle of the Fair Park, home to the Texas State Fair. Or, as I like to call it- “Mecca for all things fried and tasty“. And by “All”, I include butter and beer. Seriously-
At 5:27, dude eats a fried club salad. Wow. Well, my wife said I need more veggies in my diet… Luckily, this one’s on the Ocho (ESPNU or ESPN3), or else we’d have to be tormented by the booth team enjoying these goodies while they mumbled through the play by play.
About the sponsor; you guessed it, this is an online broker for all things ticketed. So, if you don’t have your Sugar Bowl ducats, here’s the link. In terms of the game at hand, there are plenty of tickets still available, to the surprise of absolutely no one. I’ve also heard that you get two free with every three orders of chocolate coated fried bacon. So, yeah… I’ve got some extra if anyone wants them- it’s Christmas, don’t you judge me.
I”m going to get this out of the way right now- I miss Cap’n Leach. Going from him to Tommy Tuberville is like getting excited for Greek food and being handed a slice of Wonder Bread.
All Big 12 defensive lineman Colby Whitlock anchors a defense that gained 22 turnovers on the year. Linebacker Brian Duncan’s seven sacks lead the team, and defensive back Jarvis Phillips’ four interceptions for 114 yards aren’t too shabby for a redshirt freshman.
Under Tuberville, the obscene passing numbers we’re used to from Red Raiders have dwindled, but not significantly. Taylor Potts is still finding 279 yards per game through the air, and 17 of his 31 TDs have gone to receiver Lyle Long. Baron Batch and Eric Stephens have managed 1347 yards on the ground; it should be noted that the Red Raiders’ losses have mostly come in the Big 12 south, where the only win they have is against Baylor.
TTU/Buckeye Connections: Ohio State is 2-0 against the Red Raiders, most famously (and recently) as the first major challenge in the 2002 championship season.
The Wildcats will be looking for their first bowl win since 1949, unless you count the Rose Bowl where USC won but Keyshawn Johnson was both “Player of the Game” and academically ineligible. Although, come to think of it, the ‘Cats may have had issues of their own.
Northwestern had the makings of a storybook season this year, undefeated and leading Michigan State into the fourth quarter until the Spartans pulled the “mousetrap” fake punt. They did manage to continue their inexplicable dominance of the Iowa Hawkeyes. That game was the turning point for both teams- Iowa never fully recovered, dropping their next three games. Northwestern, on the other hand, lost their quarterback to a ruptured Achilles on the game winning touchdown pass.
Normally, this is the time of the preview where I’d talk about the offense, but what we know about the Wildcats began and ended with first team Big Ten QB Dan Persa. With him out, the mantle of responsibility has fallen on Evan Watkins, a freshman who managed only 135 yards in their game at Wrigley Field… although, it’s hard to be an offensive juggernaut when you can’t use both end zones. Freshman Mike Trumpy at running back can help Watkins somewhat, but he’s been battling a wrist injury and is only probably for the bowl game. All Big Ten WR Jeremy Ebert will only be as successful if the ‘Cats offensive line gives Watkins time- Persa was much more elusive in the pocket.
On defense, you’d expect a head coach and former linebacker who has a trophy named after him to be able to put an aggressive team together. Linebacker Bryce McNaul has recovered from injuries sustained against Wisconsin and Illinois and will be a presence on defense; he and Nate Williams have combined for 143 total tackles.
Northwestern/Buckeye connections: As a conference foe, there’s a bit of significant history here, particularly if you’re a Buckeye fan. All-time, Ohio State is 59-14-1 against the Wildcats, and after the huge upset in 2004, Northwestern has seen nothing but Evil Tressel. Here are highlights from the 2008 matchup, where Pryor gets in on the action during his rookie season.
Who Are We Picking?
Missing All-Big T1e1n QB Dan Persa, and playing against a Texas Tech team at home in front of their really really excited fans, the Wildcats will have just too much to overcome.