(10-2, 5-7 ATS)
Texas A&M Aggies
(9-3, 8-4 ATS)
The annual Cotton Bowl Classic takes place this year at its latest date ever. However, on Friday night, the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies square off at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, instead of playing in the traditional Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The Bayou Bengals blew a chance to play in the BCS in the final week of the regular season, losing to the Arkansas Razorbacks. This is a pretty darn nice consolation prize for a team that beat the defending National Champions in and amongst a schedule that was very, very tough. The big problem for the Tigers though, is that RB Steven Ridley is probably not going to be able to play in this college football betting affair due to the fact that he is academically ineligible. Ridley scored 14 of the team’s 34 TDs this year, and he rushed for 1,043 yards on the year. About 40% of the offensive plays went in his hands, and if that is out of the lineup, there isn’t a running back on the squad that had even 300 yards or more than 41 carries this year. That either means that RB Michael Ford and RB Russell Shepard are going to be in for a long day on the ground, or that QBs Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee are going to need to make more things happen with their respective arms. Neither put up great numbers this year, as neither one completed even 60 percent of their passes. They only combined for 1,826 yards and six TDs against ten picks as well.
For Texas A&M, the season was really saved when Head Coach Mike Sherman pulled the plug on QB Jerrod Johnson and turned to QB Ryan Tannehill instead. Tannehill is the future of this team, as he’ll be back to try to guide the Aggies to the Big XII title next year. He threw for 1,434 yards and 11 TDs against just three picks on the campaign, and though he clearly doesn’t have the legs that Johnson does, he did a fantastic job holding on to the football and managing the game. WR Jeff Fuller and WR Ryan Swope make up one of the best 1-2 punches of receivers in the nation. Fuller caught 65 passes for 983 yards and 12 scores this year, while Swope had 67 grabs for 780 yards and four scores. On the ground, this was a team that once belonged to RB Christine Michael, but after he suffered a season ending injury, RB Cyrus Gray stepped up and was fantastic, rushing for 1,033 yards and 12 TDs. The only team to score more than 30 points against this defense this year was the Oklahoma State Cowboys, and now that we have seen the Pokes for a full year, we know that that wasn’t such a sin.
If Ridley really isn’t declared eligible to play in this game, the Tigers are in a ton of trouble. The “Mad Hatter,” Head Coach Les Miles has ways of pulling tricks out of his bag, but this is going to be too tough to handle if Ridley isn’t here. We trust Tannehill and the red hot Aggies to roll off their seventh straight win and cover since benching Johnson.
Cotton Bowl Free Pick: Texas A&M Aggies +1