Friday, January 4, 2013

Reveille liked it

    That does look like a smile on the muzzle of Texas A&M mascot Reveille, and no wonder after a 41-13 win.
    Another great week of memories is in the book. So long from the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic!

Texas A&M is your 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Champion

    The Aggies are the champs!
    Texas  A&M salted away a 41-13 victory over Oklahoma with a dominating second half. The Aggies' 599 total offensive yards is a Cotton Bowl record and became the first SEC team to finish with 7,000 total yards of offense in a season.
    A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, broke the Classic record for total offensive yards with 516 and set the all-time FBS bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 229.
   "We played as a unit and that's all you can ask for," Manziel said. "To come in and go against a Big 12 rival and do everything we wanted as a team, and send these seniors out with a win, we couldn't feel any better."

Aggies bearing down on a victory

    With 12 minutes left in the game, Texas A&M holds a commanding, 34-13, lead over Oklahoma. The Sooners just failed to convert a fourth down at the Texas A&M 26 yard line, giving the Aggies and Johnny Manziel another opportunity to add to the lead.
    Manziel has 419 total yards (243 passing, 176 rushing) at this point, breaking the Cotton Bowl record.
    The Cowboys Stadium crowd of 87,025 is the second-largest in AT&T Cotton Bowl history, second only to the 2009 Classic between Ole Miss and Texas Tech in the final game played in the old stadium.

Aggies take control, 27-13, in third quarter

    Texas A&M has scored twice in the third quarter to take a 27-13 lead with six minutes left in the third quarter.
    Meanwhile, Oklahoma has punted twice. The Sooners couldn't move the ball on the opening drive of the half, then gave up a 7-yard touchdown run to A&M's Ben Malena.
    When OU couldn't answer, after failing to convert a third-and-two, A&M put together a seven-play scoring drive. Trey Williams finished it off with a 30-yard TD run.

The World Famous Kilgore Rangerettes

    The Kilgore Rangerettes precision drill/dance team once again stole the show in the AT&T Cotton Bowl halftime performance.
    The Rangerettes have performed at every Cotton Bowl since 1951 and serve other duties during game week, such as ushering at events and dinners. They also serves as hosts and ushers at the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame inductions.

Follow the game from your laptop

If you're on Twitter, remember that the official hashtag for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic is #attcbc .
And if you like to follow the numbers - and there are a lot of them in a game like this - you can keep up with the live stats at

Halftime: Sooners still chasing Johnny Football, 14-13

Where's Johnny? The OU defense chases A&M QB Johnny Manziel as he scrambles for another first down.
    It's been a wildly entertaining first half with big plays by Johnny Manziel and methodical drives by the Sooners. Oklahoma ran a whopping 51 plays in the first half while A&M's Manziel has already rushed for 113 yards.
    Manziel scored TDs on runs of 23 and 5 yards for a 14-6 lead with 6:14 left in the half. Oklahoma made a momentum-grabbing touchdown with 1:16 left when, on third and goal, Landry Jones found Justin Brown for a 6-yard TD.
   So far, the game has lived up to its billing. Buckle in for what should be another exciting half.

Action-packed 1st quarter ends wtih A&M leading, 7-3

   We've seen just about everything in the first quarter here at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic. Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, flashed his elusiveness on the game's opening drive with a 23-yard TD scramble.
    Then Oklahoma used its hurry-up offense to drive for a field goal, after A&M's defense put up an impressive goal line stand against Blake Bell, aka the Belldozer.
    Things are starting to settle in as we begin the second quarter. A&M was forced to punt and Oklahoma has driven to midfield. 

The Pride of Oklahoma

The Fightin' Texas Aggie Band

Just before the doors opened

    This is the scene inside Cowboys Stadium at 4:57 p.m., just before the doors opened for the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
    When the gates were opened, at least a thousand Texas A&M fans rushed in from the east plaza (to the left in the photo). Meanwhile, a similar number of Oklahoma fans sauntered in from the west plaza (out of frame to the right).
    Don't know what that says about the fans' attitude about the game. Or maybe the party in the west plaza was too good to leave. But anyone who has had standing-room-only tickets at Cowboys Stadium events knows the best spots for viewing get taken up fast.

Aggies take over the Stockyards

    Above is a photo tweeted by @AggieFootball from Texas A&M's Yell Practice last night at the Fort Worth Stockyards.
    An estimated 7,500 Aggies showed up to work on their yells for tonight's game. They really don't need the practice, but it's an A&M tradition and a great way to bond and get excited for the game.
    Don't worry, they've saved their voices for the game. It should get plenty loud between the Aggies and the Sooners in Cowboys Stadium.

One last time through the Walk of Fame for the Sooners

    The Oklahoma Sooners will make one last trip over the Walk of Fame at the Gaylord Texan Hotel on their way to tonight's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium.
    Remember, whether you're at the stadium or following on FOX television or ESPN Radio, you can also follow along on Twitter. The official hashtag for the game is #ATTCBC (or #attcbc).

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Texas A&M Thursday practice report: One more workout under the lights

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies fine-tuned its preparations for the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners and the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic with a light walk-through at Cowboys Stadium.
    With the stadium dressed up in logos and banners, the Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) worked out in black shorts and T-shirts for just under an hour to take those final, crucial steps for their fourth-straight bowl game and sixth in seven seasons.
    “We got some kicking game stuff done and caught some balls in the lights. This is about as late as we’ve been in here so it was pretty game-like. Everything is painted up and ready to go,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Our walk-throughs are more brisk than most people’s the day before (a game). There was a lot of energy and it should be. We haven’t played in a long time. These guys have had a lot of time to prepare and I think they will play well tomorrow.”
    Sumlin said the keys to a win over the Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) will be for his team to stay true to what it has done all season and not worry about the historical significance of trying to become the fourth team in school history to reach 11 wins in a season.
    “Particularly with the long layoff like we’ve had, I look at this bowl game like the first game of the season,” said Sumlin. “We have to get to game speed early and we have to execute. We have to have good ball security and take advantage of turnovers when we have the opportunity. For us it’s always the same thing --  third-down conversions on offense, third-down stops on defense to get off the field and turnovers. That’s really been the story of our success this year.”

Oklahoma Thursday practice report: Final preparations, then a movie

    ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Underneath a closed roof at Cowboys Stadium, the Big 12 Co-Champion Oklahoma Sooners held their final workout a day before squaring off against Texas A&M in the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
    Players and coaches for the No. 11 Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) held an hour walkthrough in shorts and T-shirts implementing their final game plan for the Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC). Offense, defense and special teams each went through their specific final reviews at half speed.
    Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops is trying to keep his team on the same schedule like any other game. The Sooners ran through their typical “Friday” routine to keep consistent with a usual game buildup.
    “I believe we’re ready,” Stoops said. “After you’re here for five, six days and you do the events they want you to do, in the end the game is the best part of it. I think everyone is anxious to get on the field and play.”
    Thursday night, Oklahoma players had the option of either attending a private screening of the movie Jack Reacher or watching the Fiesta Bowl between Oregon and Kansas State.

Get your picture taken with the Heisman - Just like Johnny!

    The AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic’s rich lineage of Heisman Trophy winners participating in the historic postseason game will continue with the addition of the most recent recipient,Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, who will lead the ninth-ranked Aggies against No. 11 Oklahoma on January 4th at Cowboys Stadium.
    A couple of past winners, John David Crow and Billy Sims, will team up with the newest member of the exclusive fraternity to further enhance the Heisman experience for fans on game day.
    Prior to kickoff of the 77 th annual bowl game, Crow, who became Texas A&M’s first Heisman Trophy winner in 1957, and Oklahoma’s Sims, the 1978 recipient, will be on hand to sign autographs and meet fans during their appearances at the LG/AT&T Huddle Up. The Heisman legends will appear from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at the game-day fan fest located on the plazas at Cowboys Stadium.
    Crow, an Aggie halfback who became legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s first and only Heisman winner, will greet Texas A&M fans at the LG Trophy Tent located on the East Plaza of the stadium. Sooner fans can meet Sims, one of Oklahoma’s five Heisman Trophy recipients, in the LG Trophy Tent on the West Plaza. The doors to both plazas will open at 3:00 p.m. on game day.
    Fans also will have the opportunity to get their picture taken with the Heisman Memorial Trophy, which will be on prominent display at the LG/AT&T Huddle Up. During the game-day fan fest sponsored by LG and AT&T, Sooners and Aggies alike also can win prizes by participating in fun, interactive football challenges; enjoy live concerts performed by local bands; and cheer on their favorite team during school band and spirit group performances.
    And when Manziel takes the field for Texas A&M during the 77th annual AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, which kicks off at 7:00 p.m. at Cowboys Stadium, he will join seven other Heisman Trophy winners who have taken part in the game’s storied history.
    The previous Heisman winners to play in the Cotton Bowl are: Doak Walker (SMU), Roger Staubach (Navy), Earl Campbell (Texas), Doug Flutie (Boston College), Bo Jackson (Auburn), Tim Brown (Notre Dame) and Ricky Williams (Texas).

AT&T Big Play Luncheon is right on target

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones (standing at the head table in red) prepares to throw a football to a door prize winner (white shirt) in the crowd.
    The big-time feel of the 2013 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic extended to the annual AT&T Big Play Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole Hotel on Thursday. The ballroom was as packed as ever for the final chance to see the teams before they take the field at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night.
    Brad Sham, the longtime voice of the Dallas Cowboys, served as master of ceremonies, which included presiding over the traditional awarding of the door prizes. Two lucky members of the crowd won smart phones provided by AT&T, except at the Big Play luncheon you have to earn the prizes by making a big play yourself.
   Starting quarterbacks Landry Jones of Oklahoma and Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, of Texas A&M were called to the head table to throw footballs to the door prizes winners. To win the prizes, the winners had to catch the ball. Drop it and, well, as Sham said, you're at the mercy of the crowd.
   Jones went first and slightly overthrew his target. Then Manziel took a ball in hand and, before anyone could get ready, fired a bullet at his door prize winner. It fell incomplete, but it left the crowd buzzing for a minute or two.
   Texas A&M defensive back Steven Terrell and Oklahoma offensive lineman Gabe Ikard were honored with the Dan S. Petty Scholar-Athlete Award. Ikard had the crowd in stitches when he thanked Texas A&M defensive lineman Spencer Nealy for buying him a drink at another bowl function.
    "That was awesome, man," Ikard said as the crowd broke into laughter.
    Later, as Jones and Manziel approached the lectern, Ikard, who was seated at the head table, pulled out a camera phone and appeared to be angling for a photo. "Oh, you want a photo of Johnny Manziel, Gabe?" Sham said, as the crowd again erupted.
    Fox Sports analyst Charles Davis also got some big laughs during his speech, while OU lineman Austin Woods was recognized for having been a two-time winner of the Cotton Bowl childrens' art contest while growing up in Dallas.
Oklahoma's Austin Woods is the first winner of the annual Cotton Bowl kids' art contest to end up playing in the bowl.
   The luncheon ended with highlight videos of each team and speeches from head coaches Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma.
    After the luncheon, both teams held walk-through practices at Cowboys Stadium, their final preparation before the big game kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday.

The coaches are ready for The Classic

    The head coaches for Fridays' AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic met with the media one last time Wednesday morning. Even after several days of preparation and acclimation, the teams' excitement for the 2013 matchup has not lessened one bit.
     "For our fans, the location, the venue, everything that is going on, in our time slot Friday night for viewership nationally, it is going to be a great atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We are excited to be here and are looking forward to Friday."
    It's been noted in the past that Cowboys Stadium is much louder for the AT&T Cotton Bowl than it is for Dallas Cowboys games - at least consistently throughout the game. Both coaches expect plenty of noise come Friday, on the field and in the stands.
    "We understand the challenge ahead of us in facing Texas A&M," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "Kevin [Sumlin, a former Stoops assistant] has done a great job there and I want to congratulate him on a great year this year. I know our fans are excited about this game, considering it sold out on the first day, and our players are as well. We are looking forward to Friday and can't wait for the challenge."
    The teams will get together on Thursday, but under friendly circumstances, with the annual AT&T Big Play Luncheon.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Oklahoma Wednesday practice report: Preparing for the Aggies and their band

   ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The Big 12 Co-Champion Oklahoma Sooners continued to finalize their game plans for No. 9 Texas A&M with an hour and a half workout at Cowboys Stadium Wednesday afternoon.    The Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) practiced in shoulder pads and shorts as a part of their typical “Thursday” game week workout. The Sooners worked on special teams and individual drills as the Aggie War Hymn continued to play on repeat in the background.
   Friday night’s challenge has Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops looking for an advantageous matchup against their Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2) opponents. With so much time off between their last regular season game, OU has had an opportunity to reassess their approach.
   “Anytime you are playing, you can add a wrinkle or two,” Stoops said. “That is what we did with some of our quarterbacks that may be able to run the ball a bit more.”
   Earlier in the day Coach Stoops and A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin met with the media to discuss their Friday night showdown against Texas A&M. The Sooners aren’t worried about the added intangible distractions of facing Heisman Trophy winner QB Johnny Manziel.
   “Our players have played in some tight situations the last several weeks and have responded well,” Stoops said. “They have competed all the way to the end of those games.”
   The Sooner defense led the Big 12 in both passing yards allowed (218.0) and pass defense efficiency (108.0). Manziel was the first player in NCAA FBS history to pass for 300 yards and rush for 100 yards in the same game, three times in his career.
   Wednesday afternoon, OU players and coaches visited Children’s Medical Center in Dallas. Tomorrow the Sooners will attend the traditional Big Play Luncheon at the Anatole Hotel with their opponents from Texas A&M. The Sooners will then have a short walkthrough as their final practice before Friday night.

Texas A&M Monday pracitce report: Back to familiar surroundings at Cowboys Stadium

DALLAS – The No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies took part in their first practice on the playing surface for the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic with an hour practice at Cowboys Stadium.
“We were able to move the ball on both sides and really do our scripts we usually do on Thursdays,” said head coach Kevin Sumlin. “We tried to turn the music up as loud as it could be so we could work with some crowd noise. We worked a lot on the kicking game today because that’s what’s different. Anytime you’re indoors, particularly with as big of a screen up there, we had to work with our guys fielding kicks. We got a lot done today."
The workout in shorts and helmets gave A&M a chance to reacquaint itself with the stadium where it has played at least one game in each of the past four seasons. The Aggies are still seeking their first victory in the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
“We’ve played in here before and so has Oklahoma,” said Sumlin. “This is a place we felt we had to get in a little bit and practice in before we play. You can’t help but be excited to come into a building like this and know that there won’t be an open seat in the house Friday night.”
On paper, A&M comes into the game with the recipe to get that elusive win, led by redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel and junior LT Luke Joeckel on offense and junior DL Damontre Moore on defense. Sumlin said individual successes and accolades of his younger players are direct by-products of the intangibles his seniors have brought to the team throughout the season.
“Our seniors have done a tremendous job,” said Sumlin. “The underclassmen are getting the credit but it’s the seniors who are leading us. As a coach you can lead a lot when guys are in front of you. Real leadership on your team comes from guys when they are not around you, whether that’s in the locker room, outside the building, going to class or out at night. When you have guys, like our seniors, who can lead like that, it makes your job a lot easier. I think you can tell from this team that we’re getting great senior leadership out of this group.”
The Aggies will enjoy a quiet night of rest at their headquarters hotel before having their final tune-up for the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 8-1 Big 12 conference) with an afternoon walk-through at Cowboys Stadium on Thursday.

Media crush is on at the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic

Somewhere inside this swarm of reporters is Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner.

    This year's AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic has attracted more media attention than ever with the matchup between Oklahoma and Texas A&M as well as the presence of the Heisman Trophy winner.
More than 620 media credentials were requested this year.  
    "Some people like to say they have more than 1,000 requests, and that's counting TV network people," Cotton Bowl VP of Communications Charlie Fiss said. "You can't accommodate that many and actually service everybody. We had to say no to some people, although we'd love for everybody to come. But not even Cowboys Stadium is that big."
    More than 350 media requests were granted, a record for The Classic since the move to Cowboys Stadium. Previous Classics at the old Cotton Bowl stadium had an auxiliary seating area outside the pressbox for media and could handle larger numbers.
    The 2013 Classic is an especially attractive media draw with Texas A&M and Oklahoma, former Big 12 rivals, having large local fan bases and both being ranked in the top 11 of the final BCS rankings.
    But it puts the media frenzy over the top with the addition of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football, and the star power of a Heisman Trophy winner. Manziel will be the eighth Heisman winner to play in the Classic. Everyone wants a piece of the Heisman winner, but so far the media gatherings have been cordial, if a bit overwhelming at times.
    "We haven't had one in 14 years, since Ricky Williams (Texas)," said Fiss, who has been present for five of the Heisman winners' visits to the Cotton Bowl. "That's the exciting thing, because we haven't had one in a while. You don't get a chance to have a guy like that all that often."
    The bronze Heisman Trophy creates almost as much of a stir as Manziel himself when it's carried into a room. Fans and media alike have taken to posing for pictures with the iconic statue.
    "The trophy's a rock star," Fiss said. "We'll have the trophy around Cotton Bowl events this week. It should be quite the hit."

Texas A&M Tuesday practice report: Getting physical indoors again

DALLAS – The No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies were back in the indoor facility at Highland Park High School for another physical workout to get ready for the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners and the 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.
A&M put on the pads once again for an up-tempo practice that featured work in all three phases, position-by-position fundamentals and game simulation. Head coach Kevin Sumlin said he was pleased with his team’s attention to detail at this point with the game three days away.
“We’ve moved on to getting ready for game time,” said Sumlin. “I can’t say enough about Coach (Randy) Allen and Highland Park letting us use this facility. It’s been great for us with the weather. Moving over to Cowboys Stadium tomorrow, we’ll have a different kind of juice just being in that stadium. It’s going to help us a little bit and keep us focused.”
The Aggies (10-2, 6-2 Southeastern Conference) are definitely going to need the right mixture to be successful against an Oklahoma squad that ranked as the nation’s fifth-best passing offense and 44th-best defense through the end of the regular season. Sumlin said he has no worries about the team despite going through a season of distractions that could have created friction and kept the team from being as successful as it has been in his first season in College Station.
“These guys have handled it well,” said Sumlin. “That says a lot of about our coaching staff, but also it says a lot about our seniors and their leadership. These guys have been through the routine and I can’t say enough about how appreciative we are of our seniors. A lot of these young guys are getting the credit, but we wouldn’t have won half the games without these seniors.”
A&M headed to their headquarters hotel following practice to soak in some down time on New Year’s Day before partaking in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic tradition of the Beef Bowl at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Dallas.
After a good night’s rest, A&M will be up early Wednesday morning for its first practice at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington. Prior to practice, Sumlin will join Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops for a formal press conference with the media at Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving.
The 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be held on Friday, Jan. 4 on FOX. Telecast starts at 6:30 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Gus Johnson will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst.

Oklahoma Tuesday practice report: Preparing for the noise

ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Big 12 Co-Champion Oklahoma kicked off 2013 with a light practice at Cowboys Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. The Sooners continued their usual game week schedule without friction, holding a “Wednesday” workout in shorts and shoulder pads towards Friday night’s showdown against Texas A&M.
The team went through drills and situational work as music and crowd noise filled the stadium to simulate what is expected to be an intense atmosphere.
“We did Wednesday type work, did some work against each other again.” Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops said. “I feel good about it, feel like the kids practiced well and nobody’s hurt.”
The No. 11 Sooners will have their hands full with a Texas A&M squad led the SEC in total offense (552 yards/game), and scoring offense (44 points/game). The two squads faced off every year since 1996, with the Sooners holding a 19- 1 overall advantage.
“We know the great players they have and who they are,” DB Aaron Colvin said. “Being able to play them the past few years, it will be good to see them again this week.”
Coach Stoops, Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops, QB Landry Jones and DB Tony Jefferson met with members of the FOX broadcast crew to talk about the matchup with the No. 9 Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) on Friday night.
A few former Oklahoma greats were on the sidelines at practice today including Demarco Murray of the Dallas Cowboys, Travis Lewis of the Detroit Lions, and former Cleveland Brown Travis Wilson. Former Sooner and Cowboys star Tony Casillas was again on hand to provide post practice analysis for Sooner Sports TV.
Players and coaches will have a private team party for dinner, then players will have the night off. Wednesday morning Coach Stoops will meet with the media along with Texas A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin at the Omni Mandalay hotel in Dallas.
The 77th AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be held on Friday, Jan. 4 on FOX. Telecast starts at 6:30 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Gus Johnson will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst.