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Game Day: Cotton Bowl Classic

Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, will host its fourth Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday, pitting Texas A&M against Oklahoma.

No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 11 Oklahoma resume an old Big 12 rivalry on Friday night as the two teams meet in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic.

Kickoff is scheduled for 8 PM ET from Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The meeting comes just one year after the Aggies departed the Big 12 for the riches of the SEC, a conference in which the school did more than hold its own this season.

Behind Heisman-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2 SEC) secured a 10-2 record in the toughest conference in college football. The side lost only to No. 3 Florida and No. 8 LSU, and handed No. 2 Alabama its only defeat of the regular season.

The Aggies success was built on an offense that ranked in the nation’s top 20 in both passing and rushing and averaged 44.8 points per game. Only Louisiana Tech (51.5 PPG) and Oregon (50.8) put more points on the board.

Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1 Big 12) began the season with national championship aspirations but home losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame saw the Sooners finish level with the Wildcats in the Big 12, losing out on an automatic BCS spot by way of that defeat to Collin Klein and Co. The Sooners ranked fifth in the nation in passing the football (341.3 YPG) and 13th in scoring (40.3 PPG).

Despite their respective high-ranking offenses, both schools were fairly effective when it came to shutting down opponents. A&M gave up just 22.5 points per game (29th) while Oklahoma allowed 24.2 (43rd). Oddsmakers expect the Cotton Bowl Classis to be a shootout though.

Both sides will take to the field in Arlington winners of five straight games.

It’s been 14 months since the two schools met in their final Big 12 encounter. The Sooners handed the Aggies a 41-25 loss in that game, marking an eighth win in nine and 11th in 13 for the school from Norman. Oklahoma is 19-10 all-time against Texas A&M.

Texas A&M – appearing in its 13th Cotton Bowl – will be hoping that last year’s Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas win will mark a change in fortunes. Prior to defeating Northwestern in that game, the Aggies had lost 12 of 14 bowl games. A change in fortune is certainly needed when it comes to the Cotton Bowl; A&M has lost its last six appearances in the game, and is 4-8 all-time.

Oklahoma will be making its second appearance in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners defeated Arkansas in a low-scoring affair following the 2001 season. One of the most consistent postseason teams, Oklahoma has won three straight bowl games heading into play.

Following an impressive season, Texas A&M opened as favorites and have remained so throughout the period leading up to the game.

The spread opened at 4.5 but has subsequently dropped to 3.5. Oklahoma (7-5-0 ATS) performed marginally better than Texas A&M (6-6-0 ATS) when it came to covering the spread this season, but the difference was hardly definitive.

The total for the game opened at 72 and has increased to 73. Bookmakers are expecting these two prolific offenses to provide some fireworks in Cowboys Stadium. That might not be the case though. Whilst the Aggies saw the total go over seven times this season, only four Sooner games did likewise. If either (or both) team’s defenses digs its cleats in, scoring could be limited. Not to the extent that we would expect from the BCS National Championship Game on Monday, but to the tune of fewer than 72 points.

For further in depth analysis of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic, check BettingSports.com for a first look and a by the numbers interpretation of the game.

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