AU heads to Dallas for high Cotton
By Bradley Handwerger
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AUBURN — A little more than two years after Brandon Cox was born, Auburn played in the Cotton Bowl, losing to Texas A&M 36-16.
Twenty-one years later, the Tigers are heading back to Dallas, ready to even their record in the bowl game to 1-1.
On Sunday, Auburn (10-2) formally accepted a bid to the 71st Cotton Bowl Classic to play against Nebraska (9-4) of the Big 12.
It marks the third straight year the Tigers will be playing in a January bowl game and the second straight year the Dallas bowl game selected a team from Alabama. In last year’s game, Alabama beat Texas Tech 13-10.
“Never been to Dallas,” said Cox, Auburn’s quarterback. “Never been to Texas. Looking forward to going out there. We’ve always been playing Big 10 teams. I was hoping to go somewhere else and play some other teams. I was hoping for Dallas.”
Two years ago Auburn beat Virginia Tech 16-13 in the Sugar Bowl, and a year ago Auburn fell to Wisconsin, losing 24-10 in the Capital One Bowl.
And if you think what happened to Auburn a year ago will happen again, well, the Tigers aren’t planning on it.
“We’ve been reminded of it every day up until we started getting ready for Washington State,” Cox said. “(Strength) Coach (Kevin) Yoxall wore the Cap One badge around his neck during all the workouts. He still has newspaper articles posted in the weight room. It was definitely embarrassing.”
But that’s a discussion for a later time. Right now, the talk is about the Cotton Bowl trip.
“It’s a dream come true for me being an old Southwest Conference fan, coming from Arkansas,” Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said.
Auburn moved up to No. 10 in all three human polls and finished No. 9 in the Bowl Championship Series standings. Nebraska fell to No. 22 after its 21-7 loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game Saturday.
This year’s Cotton Bowl carries a payout of $3 million, $1.25 million less than the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla., where Arkansas will play.
The Cotton Bowl picks third in the process behind the Capital One Bowl, meaning it chose Auburn over Tennessee, which will go to the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Fla.
Traditionally, the Cotton takes a team from the Western Division, while the Outback takes a team from the East.
“When we had our team selection last Monday, we felt very strongly that as long as Arkansas or Auburn were on the table by the time we select, we would be equally excited about both of those teams,” Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker said. “The thing we’re excited about with Auburn is that we haven’t had them in so long.”
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