Texas is going to the Cotton Bowl. Texas A&M is headed for the Holiday Bowl. But there's a year's worth of bragging rights still at stake when the two arch-rivals meet today.
No. 5 Texas clinched the automatic Cotton Bowl invitation by winning the Southwest Conference championship with a 23-13 victory over Baylor last Saturday. The Longhorns (9-1) will play No. 3 Miami in Dallas on Jan. 1. Texas A&M (8-2-1) faces No. 4 Brigham Young in the Holiday Bowl at San Diego.But in a state where both schools have more alumni than any other college, bragging rights are all-important. And while the Aggies have no national championship hopes, Texas still has its eyes on the No. 1 ranking.
The Longhorns lead the series 63-28-5, but A&M has won six in a row.
The game matches different offensive philosophies. Texas quarterback Peter Gardere will try to pierce A&M's defense with his passing, while the Aggies' big runners will try to find some soft spots in the Longhorns' rushing defense.
Texas offensive coordinator Lynn Amedee, who formerly held the same job at A&M, said Gardere "isn't very big and sometimes he has a scattergun, but he's winning, and that's the greatest thing you can say about a quarterback."
Gardere, a 6-foot, 188-pound sophomore, has completed 150 of 266 passes for 2,049 yards and 10 touchdowns. He's thrown only six interceptions and has the lowest interception rate in the SWC.
The Aggies, who've averaged 482 yards in total offense per game, like to keep the ball on the ground. They rely on the running of Darren Lewis, Robert Wilson and Bucky Richardson.
Lewis, a senior, has 4,862 career rushing yards, tops in SWC history, has scored 15 touchdowns and is averaging 140 yards a game this season despite often sitting down early in the second half of runaways.
Wilson, a 245-pound junior, has scored five touchdowns and gained 679 yards, while Richardson, the quarterback, has rushed for seven touchdowns and 561 yards. He's also thrown four TD passes.
They should present a challenge for the Longhorns, who rank first in the SWC in total defense, allowing 296.8 yards a game. A&M is No. 3, giving up 299.8 yards.