Friday, January 7, 2011
LSU, Texas A&M Thrill Fans at the 75th Annual Cotton Bowl
For those of you who love college football this was the perfect atmosphere for this game. The fans were already getting loud before the game even started.
From the moment each team came out on the field for warmups, Cowboys Stadium in Arlington was already jumping with fans from both teams screaming and yelling at the top of their lungs. Not like they needed the gentle shove but when the big screen put up the "noise meter" it became so loud that none of us could hear each other in the press box.
All of this was before the opening kick off. They were just getting warmed up.
It was all about mistakes for Texas A&M and two of them were enough to allow the LSU Tigers to run away with the game. Aggie quarterback Ryan Tannehill was intercepted twice and both were telegraphed badly.
When you first learn how to be a quarterback and you learn the ins, outs, do's and don'ts, you're taught to never stare at your receiver or stare them down. Tannehill apparently forgot those lessons because its what caused both of his interceptions, one of which led to a late LSU touchdown.
Though we can talk about the game until we're blue in the face and talk about what each team did or didn't do, I think enough of you watched it where you don't need me to break it down. So how about we do something a little different? You ok with that? Good.
From the moment I walked in to Cowboys Stadium there was a different feel to this game. But it wasn't the game itself, it was the atmosphere that surrounded it.
As you drive up to the stadium you see fans clad in LSU purple and gold as well as Aggie fans dressed in maroon and white. This is what college football is all about and I don't think you could get a better venue for this game and for these teams than Cowboys Stadium.
Everyone who's been here talks about the huge screen that sits some 50-60 feet above the playing surface. Don't get me wrong it's a sight to behold but it's just screen no matter how big it is.
This game was about the fans and it was about a game that has so much tradition behind it. When you talk about this game you mention guys like the great Jim Brown and so many of the other hall of famers that have graced this game through the years.
From the opening kickoff to halftime to every play in between, the fans enjoyed themselves at every turn. Not to offend Texas A&M fans but the LSU Tiger fans were loud from the moment this game got underway. They drowned out everybody and they have every right to be proud of their team's victory on this night.
It was a back and forth game from the start but one the Aggies just couldn't hang on to. They made too many mistakes, turned the ball over too many times, and made unforced errors that gave the Tigers new life. This 41-24 win was not only earned by LSU but you could almost say the Aggies handed them a few touchdowns just like a scratch golfer giving a few strokes to an opponent that's not quite as good.
The Aggies had a good run and we're looking for their first 10-win season in more than a decade but the Tigers made sure that 10th win wasn't coming on this night. They made sure that they would be the best team that took the field on this Friday night.
No matter whether you're a college football fan or an NFL fan, atmospheres like this don't come around very often. This was my very first time to take in a game, in person, that featured LSU and I wasn't disappointed.
For now, Texas A&M will go back to the drawing board and their students will head into yet another off season. Both teams will lose their seniors and both will rebuild with incoming freshman as well as experienced upper classmen.
We will see these teams again and even better than they were this season. We're not done hearing from the LSU Tigers and the Texas A&M Aggies.
As the clocked rolled to triple zeros at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, I get one more look at what was an amazing experience and a tremendous game from both teams.
Say what you want about the win for LSU and the mistakes from Texas A&M, they deserved to be on this stage and they put on a show that should make their fans proud. A bounce here and a change in fortune there could have turned the tide in another direction but neither of those things happened.
This game went exactly as LSU wanted it to go and they leave here with the Cotton Bowl trophy.
Until next year and the 76th Annual Cotton Bowl, we wrap things up with a big thank you to Cowboys Stadium, to the LSU Tigers and their fans as well as to Texas A&M and their fans.
Congratulations to the LSU Tigers, the 2011 Cotton Bowl Champions. Well deserved and well earned.