Saturday, December 30, 2006

BOWL PREVIEW: AT&T Cotton Bowl

Wanna deal? Well, then, the AT&T Cotton Bowl is the game for you.




Yes, Auburn and Nebraska, it seems, can't get rid of their tickets fast enough. They literally can't get rid of the tickets fast enough. In fact, to this point, they haven't been able to get rid of their tickets at all.


Neither Nebraska nor Auburn had sold out its allotment of 12,500 tickets, all priced at $90. All but about 3,500 of the 68,252 seats have a face value of $90.
Omaha-based Ticket Express president Chad Carr, like others in the travel and ticket business, say fans aren't enamored with Dallas as a destination. Brokers say Nebraska fans are let down after the Huskers lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game. Same goes for Auburn fans, who saw their wide receiver Courtney Taylor and the Tigers end their national championship hopes with a loss
to Georgia.


As a college football fan, I'm sad to see two teams' fan bases ignore what is actually a pretty good bowl. Because it's not a BCS game, a lot of people overlook a bowl that's got a good deal of tradition and history. And, amazingly enough, two 0-0 ties.




Take my tickets -- please.




In fact, the Cotton is an honor to be invited to. Even if your team did inexplicably fall apart and give up 37 points to a team who had trouble putting together 37-yard drives.


Hey, if either of y'all want to give South Carolina the bowl invite -- we'll take it.


In case you haven't noticed, Husker fans, it ain't the 1990s. And Auburn fans, it ain't 2004.


Bowl: AT&T Cotton Bowl
Location: Dallas
When: Jan. 1, 11 a.m. ET, FOX
Purported reason for existence: To match a selection from the SEC with a choice from the Big XII.
Real reason for existence: Because Big XII fans have to be put in their place.
Teams: Auburn vs. Nebraska
Interest level: SportsNight. A hidden gem that most of America hasn't discovered but you'd do well to watch. Besides, Pat Summerall is coming back. For whatever that's worth to you.






A new generation discovers Summerall. If they discover the game.



Key player for Auburn (on offense): RB Kenny Irons. The SEC is still the SEC, and Auburn is still built around the run. Irons, whom Lou Holtz brilliantly ran off from South Carolina because of his lackluster work ethic (not that I'm bitter, or anything), has run for 821 yards this year, and is the one reliable thing for Auburn in a year when their QB still has the odd off day.
Key player for Auburn (on defense): DE Quentin Groves, who has 12.0 TFL and 9.5 sacks on the year.
Key player for Nebraska (on offense): QB Zac Taylor, who has taken nicely to Callahan's offense, throwing for 3,071 yards and 25 touchdowns, alongside seven interceptions.
Key player for Nebraska (on defense): DEs Adam Carriker and Jay Moore, who between them have 26.5 TFLs and 11.0 sacks.
Coaching matchup: Tommy "Ears" Tuberville, who has resurrected the Auburn football program and turned it once again into a perennial contender, against Bill "West Coast" Callahan, who has revived Nebraska by introducing the real Plains to an innovation called the forward pass.






Tuberville and Callahan hold tradition pre-game staring contest.



Winner: Auburn. The defense should be good enough to give Callahan and Taylor fits, while Irons can grind it out with the best of them. If Auburn keeps this a low-scoring affair and doesn't have to depend on Brandon Cox, they should win easily.

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