Double-T Nation News:
I've been fighting it for two days, but I've developed an incredibly awesome head-cold. I'm planning to pump myself with lots of drugs within the hour, so the drugs and the beer I intend to crack at 10:30 a.m. will hopefully kill any current sniffles and sneazes.
If you've emailed me, I've received it and I'll text you to know where I'm situated. I look forward to meeting everyone.
Texas Tech Football:
LAJ's Don Williams writes that the Red Raiders hope the Cotton Bowl will be less exciting that the previous two bowl games:
"Maybe we just like the drama; I don’t know," Harrell said. "We try to be as sharp as we can. This week, we’ve been pretty sharp. Who says we’re not going to get down again, but if we do, we’ve been there before. It’s not only in bowl wins; we’ve been down in regular-season games and had to come back. With the offense we have, we can score pretty quick and put a lot of points up in a hurry.
"Hopefully this year we can get off to a little faster start than what we’ve gotten off to in the last two bowl games."
LAJ's Adam Zuvanich profiles Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt:
Ole Miss (8-4) won its last five regular-season games to finish second behind Alabama in the SEC Western Division, and it won road games against each of the last two national champions in Florida and LSU. The Rebels earned the program’s first national ranking in five years along the way, and now they’re headed to a bowl game for the first time since the 2003 season.
"The first day he got here, he came into the room and said he was going to be a players’ coach, he was going to get this team to a bowl game and he was going to turn the program around," said junior Dexter McCluster, one of the team’s leading offensive players. "He’s done everything."
FWST's Dwain Price features the Texas Tech offensive line:
Center Stephen Hamby (6-foot-2, 287 pounds), tackles Rylan Reed (6-7, 314) and Marlon Winn (6-6, 325), and guards Brandon Carter (6-7, 354) and Louis Vasquez (6-6, 335) make up a unit that has helped Tech churn out 536.2 yards per game.
"The offensive line, I think this is the meanest, yet the nicest group you’ll ever meet," Hamby said. "As a whole, we come out there and we know exactly what we’re going to do.
"There’s no panicking like past offensive lines I’ve seen."
Hamby jokes that his unit’s performance has spoiled Harrell a little bit.
"He’ll complain any time he gets touched a little," Hamby said, laughing. "We kind of look at him and go, 'Really? Come on.’ "
FWST's Jimmy Burch looks back at Cotton Bowl memories:
"It makes me sad to think that the Cotton Bowl game won’t be played there at the Cotton Bowl [stadium] any longer," said Gene Stallings, a former Texas A&M player who won the 1968 Cotton Bowl as the Aggies’ coach. "I understand the reasons. But there’s a soft spot in my heart for that old stadium."
DMN's Bobbi Roquemore previews the 2008 Cotton Bowl, along with staff predictions:
Mississippi will win if...
Its offense overachieves, and its defensive line doesn't underachieve. A five-touchdown performance by the Ole Miss offense would keep Tech's offense off the field and test the depth of the Red Raiders' defense. It will be up to the Rebels defense to minimize game-breaking plays and get inside the Radiers' heads.
Texas Tech will win if...
It can get over the fact that it's not playing for the national championship. Coach Mike Leach downplayed any disappointment this week. Still, 11-1 Tech has to be careful about any superiority complex against a Mississippi team that's 8-4 but on a five-game winning streak.
DMN's Brandon George writes that Captain Mike Leach has become one of college football's best:
For years, Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has been known more for his quirkiness and his uncommon interests, such as pirates and Geronimo.
Leach's willingness to offer dating advice or forecast the weather often overshadowed a fact that has long been an afterthought: The man with a law degree can coach football.
Leach has guided the 11-1 Red Raiders to their best regular season in school history and a national ranking that reached as high as No. 2. In one magical season, Tech made itself relevant in a conference that includes tradition-rich programs Texas and Oklahoma. Suddenly, Leach has gained the respect of his peers and the nation.
He can no longer be considered a mad scientist.
"Mike has a goal and a passion and he stays with that thought process and he doesn't flinch," Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill said. "He stays with what he believes in."
NY Times Paul Myerberg previews the 2008 Cotton Bowl:
Played six days before the SEC and Big 12 meet in the national championship, the Cotton Bowl may give fans a glimpse of what lies in store for Florida and Oklahoma. On one side, we have Ole Miss — the only team to beat Florida during the regular season. On the other, high-flying Texas Tech’s offensive philosophy provides a similar picture to Oklahoma, though more skewed towards the passing game. The same questions exist here as do in the B.C.S. national championship game: Can Texas Tech control the Ole Miss front seven? Can the Ole Miss secondary contain Graham Harrell and Michael Crabtree? And like the national title game, the Cotton Bowl is expected to be a good one.
The Chron's David Barron looks at the state of Texas' incredible group of talented quarterbacks:
As one era of Texas football history comes to a close with today’s final Cotton Bowl Classic at Fair Park, the game’s quarterbacks, Graham Harrell of Texas Tech and Jevan Snead of Mississippi, represent the vanguard of a new chapter in the game’s development.
Harrell, who has set eight NCAA passing records this season, and Snead, in his first year as a starter for the Rebels after transferring from Texas following the 2006 season, are among 12 former Texas high school quarterbacks starting for bowl teams representing eight states and six conferences.
That group accounts for almost a fifth of the 68 bowl participants, more than any other state, and it depicts the development of Texas football in like fashion that the move from Fair Park to the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington tracks the path of the Cotton Bowl’s evolution.