NORMAN — Co-Big 12 champion Oklahoma was stunned Sunday upon being squeezed out of its BCS at-large bid by an upstart mid-major.
Players and fans alike — certain they'd locked up a sweet Sugar Bowl spot opposite No. 3 Florida — expressed their anger and frustration on Twitter after OU slid to the Jan. 4, 2013 Cotton Bowl, where it will face Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Heck, even Kirk Herbstreit had trouble controlling his disdain for rules that allowed No. 15 Northern Illinois to move into the BCS spot the Sooners thought they'd locked up.
“Are you kidding me with Northern Illinois playing in the BCS?” an exasperated Herbstreit said during ESPN's BCS selection show.
Everyone needs to take a deep breath; for Oklahoma, a Cotton Bowl clash with the Aggies isn't a huge drop-off from the Sugar Bowl.
In the Cotton Bowl, OU might actually have more to gain.
The inclusions alone of Northern Illinois, Louisville and Wisconsin are evidence that BCS bowls aren't always elite destinations for college football's greatest teams.
With No. 11 Oklahoma and No. 9 Texas A&M, the Cotton Bowl features a matchup most of this year's BCS bowls can only dream about: One of college football's historically elite programs facing quarterback Johnny Manziel, the game's most exciting player and probably, by gameday, a Heisman Trophy winner?
The game is close to home for Oklahoma and its fans, who historically travel well to bowl games; not to mention the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is full of OU fans and alumni.
Having an elite-level bowl matchup against a Heisman finalist — and inside one of the greatest football venues in the country — can't be bad for OU's recruiting efforts in the area, either.