There are probably not two teams in the country who feel like they have more to prove than the two teams that are squaring off in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Friday.
Although the Cotton Bowl is a highly respected and highly desirable bowl game to play in, the fact remains it is not one of the coveted BCS bowls. So on Friday night when the Texas A&M Aggies and Oklahoma Sooners meet, they will each look to prove that they should have been one of the teams invited to a BCS bowl game.
They better be careful. If they are going to say it, they better back it up. Will Muschamp spent all month leading up to the Sugar Bowl saying that his Florida team should have been playing for the National Championship. They had an opportunity to prove it to the college football world against Louisville in the Sugar Bowl, and they failed. Miserably.
Note to Aggies and Sooners: If you feel like you have something to prove to the naysayers, you better back it up and make a case for your argument.
The Texas A&M Aggies are led by first year head coach Kevin Sumlin. All Sumlin did was navigate the Aggies through their first year in the SEC, winning ten games and securing one of the best non-BCS bowl games available. Oh, and they went to Tuscaloosa and knocked off the number one team in the country at the time, the Alabama Crimson Tide. That’s all. No big deal.
Along the way, Sumlin developed a little known red-shirt freshman quarterback with a funny last name and turned him into the Heisman Trophy winner.
Not just any Heisman Trophy winner. Johnny Manziel became the first freshman to ever win the award. No big deal.
Nobody expected much out of the Aggies this year so they have had a lot to prove all year. And they have more than proven to the college football world that they belong, not only in the SEC, but also in the conversation as a potential title contender for next year.
Manziel even spoke to that this past week. "You look at what our offense did this year. People didn't really think that we were going to have much success in the SEC," said Manziel. "They said these smash mouth, hard-nose defenses and this gimmick offense ... won't work.” And he left it at that. Well played Manziel, well played.
But they’re not done. They have a date with the Sooners around the corner.
Speaking of the Sooners, lately they seem to always have something to prove. Since winning the National Championship in 2000, the Sooners have had so many ups and downs, most roller coasters would get motion sickness.
They’ve had wins vacated and reinstated. They’ve won Big 12 Championships and lost to non-BCS schools. They’ve beaten their nemesis, the Texas Longhorns, by more points than ever in the history of the rivalry. They’ve had NCAA investigate their program. They’ve lost their starting quarterback in season openers. They’ve lost two national championship games. They’ve had a lot to prove.
But they’re not done. They have a date with the Aggies around the corner.
So when these two teams square off, they will each have their own personal vendettas. Texas A&M needs to prove that their season was no fluke, that their head coach is as good as advertised and that their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback is the real deal. They want to prove that they belong in this bowl; and perhaps even a bigger one.
Oklahoma needs to prove that they are no Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, that they’re good enough to play with anyone in the country and that they can contain Johnny Manziel, a feat only two teams have managed to do this year. They also want to prove that they belong in a bigger bowl.
Bob Stoops seems to think his Sooners are up to the challenge. "Texas A&M is an excellent football team, 10-2, ranked eighth or ninth in the country, a team that has won five or six straight games down the stretch," coach Bob Stoops said. "It begins with their offense and Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner. ... It'll be a special bowl game and we're looking forward to it."
As much as both teams say they are glad to be in the Cotton Bowl playing each other, the bottom line is, they both feel like they deserved more.
There’s just way to make their case. Prove it.
Game coverage begins 8:00 ET on FOX. An online livestream can be found to watch The Cotton Bowl here.