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Sunday, December 2nd, 2007

A Battle of Heisman Hopefuls

The Missouri Tigers and Arkansas Razorbacks accepted an invitation today to play in the 72nd edition of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on New Year’s Day.

The No. 7 ranked Tigers (11-2, 7-1), the Big 12 North Division Champions, are making their first trip to the AT&T Cotton Bowl since 1946. Arkansas (8-4, 4-4) is making its 11th appearance in the Classic and its first since 2002 when the Hogs fell to Oklahoma, 10-3.

“The AT&T Cotton Bowl is ecstatic to have two tremendous teams that certainly deserve to play in a New Year’s Day bowl as a reward for their outstanding seasons,” Cotton Bowl Athletic Association Chairman Bruce Gadd said. “With the extraordinary talent on both rosters, including two Heisman candidates, it’s setting up to be a Classic to remember.”

Missouri and Arkansas met most recently in the 2003 Independence Bowl, with the Razorbacks winning 27-14. Mizzou and the Razorbacks are 2-2 all time dating back to their first matchup in 1906.

Arkansas, the Southeastern Conference representative, finished the regular season winning four of five SEC tilts, including an improbable 50-48 triple-overtime victory at No. 1 LSU to end the season. The Hogs finished the season ranked 24th in the Coaches Top 25 and 25th in the AP Top 25 poll.  

Interim head coach Reggie Herring will guide the Razorbacks in their 36th bowl appearance. Arkansas is 11-21-3 all time in bowl games and 3-6-1 in the Cotton Bowl.

The Razorbacks have relied heavily on one of the premier running back tandems in the nation this year. Darren McFadden and Felix Jones have combined for 2,842 rushing yards. McFadden, last year’s Heisman runner up and Doak Walker Award winner for the nation’s top running back, surpassed his rushing total from last year with 1,725 yards. He has rushing for 15 touchdowns, thrown for four td’s and caught one for a score this year. McFadden is the third-leading all-time rusher in SEC history.


The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the BCS poll heading into the Big 12 Championship in San Antonio, fell to the Oklahoma Sooners, 38-17, to close the regular season. Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel will be returning to Dallas to play in front his hometown fans. As a senior at Southlake Carroll, Daniel led the Dragons to a state title in 2004.

Ironically, Southlake defeated Allen on the road to the state championship. Allen was led for most of the 2004 season by Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick before he tore a tendon in his ankle. He missed the final two games, including the playoff game against Carroll, and was replaced by his brother Nathan Dick, currently a freshman quarterback, backing up his brother at Arkansas.

“Local interest will be extremely high based on the fact that both quarterbacks are coming back to North Texas to play in front of their hometown fans,” CBAA Team Selection Chairman Fin Ewing said. “This game provides some great story lines, and certainly sets up to be one of the best bowl matchups this year.”

This will mark the first New Year's Day bowl game for Missouri since the Tigers played in the 1970 Orange Bowl (Penn State 10, Mizzou 3), and it will be MU's 10th all-time New Year's Day bowl appearance. The Tigers fell to Texas in the 1946 Classic, 40-27. Longhorn quarterback Bobby Layne was responsible for all 40 Texas points.

The 2008 AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be nationally televised on FOX, and kickoff is set for 10:40 a.m. on January 1st. For ticket information, Missouri fans can contact the Tiger ticket office at 1-888-MIZZOU-1

. Arkansas fans should contact the Razorback ticket office at 1-800-982-HOGS. General tickets sold through the AT&T Cotton Bowl office are sold out.

In February, the AT&T Cotton Bowl announced that the Classic will move to the Dallas Cowboys new stadium in Arlington in January, 2010. This year’s Classic will mark the second to last game at the Cotton Bowl Stadium.