Daily Blog • Friday, January 7th


8:00 PM FOX
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TEXAS A&M (9-3) VS LSU (10-2)

These teams have a rich history with LSU having a 26-20-3 advantage with the last meeting in ‘95. The bowl is a 3 hr drive from College Station and A&M has played Ark in this stadium the L/2Y (0-2). After a 3-3 start which saw ?’s about HC Sherman’s future the Aggies rallied for 6 straight wins to secure their 1st Cotton Bowl invite S/’04. It is the Aggies 12th Cotton Bowl overall where they’re 4-7. Miles suffered his 1st bowl loss at LSU (4-1) LY 19-17 to Penn St in a muddy Capital One Bowl. This is LSU’s 1st trip to the Cotton Bowl S/’02 so there should be a strong following.

The Big 12’s pressn OPY QB Johnson had shoulder surgury which limited his offseason participation and seemed out of sync in Sept behind a rebuilt OL. After Johnson became A&M’s all-time ydg leader vs KU he was benched for bkup WR Tannehill. Tannehill was efficient (235, 65%, 11-3) in the L/6 and his ability to get rid of the ball quickly helped the OL as he was sk’d just 10x in his 5 sts vs 25 in Johnson’s 7. Michael and Gray shared TB carries until Michael was OFY vs TT. Gray took over running for 100+ in the L/6 becoming A&M’s 1st 1,000 yd rusher S/’03. A&M has my #19 off and #24 defense. New DC DeRuyter moved the Ags back to the 3-4 the same formation as the legendary Wrecking Crew. The LB unit (top 4 tkl’rs) was the Big 12’s best led by Butkus Winner Miller. A&M finished #1 in the league in rush D thanks to their DL whose job is to clog rush lanes. The Ags are #11 pass eff D (241, 61%, 16-15). The ST’s were a disappointment at #67 with the B12’s worst net P (34.2). K Bullock hit 15-19 but was just 2-3 from 40+.

LSU has had another strange season in which they started out 7-0 climbing to #6 in the AP poll before a loss to Auburn. Miles was said to be on the hotseat early in the season especially after a near-loss to Tenn in which UT rec’d a fmbl’d snap with no time left, but LSU RB Ridley scored the GW TD on an untimed down after UT was called for 13 men on the field. The criticism waned after upsets of FL and AL, but losing the finale to Ark has restarted the fire-Les Miles talk again. Miles was forced to alternate QB’s all yr as Jefferson is the better runner and Lee the better passer but Lee only had 6 att in the L/2 gms. Ridley was a nice surprise and the RB’s stayed healthy TY. On defense LSU is #13 in my pass D rankings all’g 166 ypg (56%) with a 12-16 ratio led by Thorpe/Bednarik winner CB Patrick Peterson. Peterson also helped the ST earn their #4 ranking as a standout RS. LSU also has AA PK Jasper who also helps P Helton as the 2 comb for a 43.6 avg and 39.2 net.

A&M has had an impressive season and their win streak down the stretch is well noted. LSU has struggled offensively but their weapons are dynamic on offense and their top 10 D can match any that A&M has faced TY. The LSU CB’s can play man-to-man and therefore A&M’s OL will face more pressure than they have all year. Prior to last year’s mud-fest, LSU had averaged 39 points per game in bowls under Miles and I think they get the win here.




FCS Championship gamE:
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Eastern washington (12-2) VS delaware (12-2)

Both teams come in at 12-2 and will be playing here at this neutral Texas stadium site which won the bid to host this game. Eastern Washington got a lot of publicity this year for switching to red turf at their home field but this will be their first road game since October 30. Delaware comes in with the FCS' #1 scoring defense giving up just 11.5 ppg and they are #5 in total D allowing 277 ypg. Meanwhile EW is just #64 in scoring defense giving up 25.4 ppg and #86 in total D (376 ypg). They do have the FCS' defensive player of the year in LB JC Sherritt. On offense, Delaware QB Pat Devlin who is projected to be a mid-round NFL draft prospect leads the Blue Hens offense which is avg 28.5 ppg (#36) and avg 400.7 ypg total off (#20). Devlin was thought to be a possible Peyton Award candidate for the top QB but was not even invited to the award. EW also has a high-powered offense and avg 32.3 ppg (#12) and avg 402.1 ypg (#19). They will probably be without one of the best players in the country though RB Tawain Jones who was injured in a playoff game several weeks ago. With the better balance on offense/defense and a healthier squad, the Blue Hens are my pick to take home the FCS Championship.

PHIL’S FORECAST: DELAWARE 28 eastern washington 17