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Oklahoma football: Cotton Bowl is a no-win situation for Sooners

COMMENTARY — If OU beats SEC newcomer Texas A&M, it won't get as much credit as would for beating one of the league's traditional powers.
by Berry Tramel Published: December 18, 2012

Strange. That's the best way to describe the OU-Texas A&M Cotton Bowl.

Strange. Doesn't feel like a bowl matchup. Doesn't feel like a Big 12/SEC showdown. Doesn't feel like a chance for the Sooners to post some conference pride.

OU-A&M feels like an experiment. Like OU-Texas II, played over in JerryWorld, 15 miles west of the Dallas fairgrounds. This will be the 19th OU-A&M game in the last 20 years. Feels like just another conference game, only moved to a neutral field.

“It is a little strange,” said OU quarterback Landry Jones, who isn't prone to outlandish theories. “We played 'em last year. It still seems like a Big 12 game.”

Which is a problem for the Sooners and the Big 12. Lose this game, and OU will suffer all the ignominy that goes with losing a marquee bowl showdown. Win this game, and OU will receive none of the benefits that usually go with beating an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl.

And that's no small thing.

A&M was splendid in its first Southeastern Conference season, going 10-2 and producing a Heisman Trophy winner in quarterback Johnny Manziel.

But in many ways, the Aggies are still seen as a Big 12-style team. Spread offense, flashy quarterback. Took the staid SEC by surprise.

If the Sooners win, well, they always beat the Aggies. Bob Stoops is 11-2 vs. A&M. It won't be like if the Sooners had topped LSU or Florida or Alabama or one of those other SEC teams meaner than a seasick crocodile.

And here's why that's important. The rest of college football is going to have to start restoring its reputation against the SEC.

The SEC has been fabulous on the field for more than half a decade. And equally fabulous in the boardroom. The SEC knows how to play and knows how to politick.

With the four-team playoff coming in 2014, the SEC — through scheduling and through marketing — is angling to get two of the four slots every year. That (Crimson) Tidal Wave can be stopped only by strong administrators — I'm not optimistic — and winning football games.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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