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November 30, 2012

Odds heavily favor A&M to the Capital One Bowl

Relax, Texas. You don't have to worry about facing those big, mean ol' Aggies.

Based on multiple indications today and the continued interest of bowl officials in Texas A&M, it's become extraordinarily likely -- almost certain -- that the Aggies will be bowling in Orlando. The destination: the Capital One Bowl, held New Year's Day.

The Capital One Bowl is a highly attractive destination, with a payout of $4,550,000. It is also lays claim to the second-seeded team out of both the SEC and the Big 10, which is a very clear indication of how highly regarded the Aggies (10-2, 6-2 SEC) are currently.

The reasons for the Capital One Bowl -- which has been following A&M since the Ole Miss game at Oxford -- to take the Aggies are numerous, including the most electric player in America in Johnny Manziel. Here are a few others:

* The winner of the SEC Championship Game between Alabama and Georgia, as well as Florida, are headed to the BCS. Of the two-loss teams remaining, A&M will have the longest winning streak.

* If Alabama wins, the Aggies will have the distinction of knocking off a BCS title game contestant (and then No. 1) in their own house.

* A&M has never played in the Capital One Bowl, meaning more fan interest.

* No team in America is drawing more national attention than Texas A&M is right now. That includes Notre Dame.

* The bowl wouldn't want a rematch of Alabama (should they lose) and the likely B1G opponent. More on them in a second.

As a result, the Aggies trump a two-loss LSU team and a two-loss Georgia squad, not to mention a possible two-loss Alabama team. Those three would be left to fight for a spot in the Cotton Bowl, likely against Texas.

So who would the Aggies play in a Capital One Bowl matchup? Look to an old foe from the Alamo Bowl nearly 20 years ago: Michigan.

While the Wolverines may be less of a sure thing for the game than A&M is at this point, there are several factors playing in favor of Michigan (8-4, 6-2 B1G). The major ones include:

* Northwestern (9-3, 5-3) lost to Michigan this year, has a miniscule fan base in comparison to the Wolverines and played the Aggies last year in Houston (and lost).

* Michigan has a big fan base, no matter who they're compared to.

* If Nebraska loses in the B1G title game to Wisconsin, the Huskers played in the Capital One Bowl last year. That will likely lead to depressed fan interest.

* Denard Robinson. "Johnny Football vs. Shoelace" would be a marketing dream, even if their seasons have been diametrically opposed.

If this scenario holds up -- and there are some indications that it's more certain than scenario -- the Aggies will play in front of the nation in a New Year's Day bowl with the most popular player and college football's hottest coach. All in their first year in the SEC. Not too shabby, and more than good consolation prize to staring down an old foe in Arlington.

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