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Dec. 4, 2005
LUBBOCK, Texas - AT&T Cotton Bowl Chairman Gayle Earls made the call Sunday and Texas Tech officials accepted the invitation to participate in the program's third appearance in one of the bowl season's most tradition-rich events. The Red Raiders, ranked 18th in the latest AP poll, will face the 13th-ranked Crimson Tide of Alabama on Jan. 2 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
"We appreciate Gayle Earls and the committee for extending this invitation to play in the AT&T Cotton Bowl and we're excited to accept the invitation and to represent the Big 12 in such a prestigious bowl," Texas Tech Director of Athletics Gerald Myers said. "The Cotton Bowl has a long tradition, particularly with all of the schools in the state of Texas, of being one of the outstanding bowl games in the country. It will be a great event for our team as well as our fans and alumni."
By accepting the invitation, Texas Tech will make its third appearance in the game and first since 1995. Kickoff for this year's event is 10 a.m. and the game will be aired nationally on FOX. The Red Raider program first played in the third Cotton Bowl in 1939.
"The AT&T Cotton Bowl is ecstatic to have two tremendous teams with such passionate fans in Texas Tech and Alabama," Earls said. "With the extraordinary talent on both rosters, January 2nd is already setting up to be a Classic to remember."
Sixth-year head coach Mike Leach has led Texas Tech to an unprecedented six-straight bowl appearances, while the program is making its 29th postseason event overall. Leach also is the first coach in school history to lead Tech to three-consecutive bowl wins (2002-04). Texas Tech is one of seven schools nationally to have won three bowl games in the last three years.
"I want to thank the AT&T Cotton Bowl for the invitation. This is a credit to our team, coaches and staff," Leach said. "We are excited about playing in one of America's greatest and tradition-laden bowls. It's legendary how well they treat you at the Cotton Bowl and it's exciting for our team."
The Red Raiders finished the regular season with a 9-2 mark and a program-best 6-2 record in Big 12 play to position themselves for the league's number one bowl outside of the BCS. Tech leads the nation in passing and is among the top five in scoring and total offense. Defensively, the Red Raiders turned in one of their best seasons and are currently ranked 26th in total defense and eighth in pass defense.
Alabama, the dean of postseason play, extends its NCAA record to 53 bowl appearances and is making its first visit to the Cotton Bowl since 1982. The Crimson Tide finished the season with a 9-2 overall mark and 6-2 record in the Southeastern Conference. The Alabama defense has been its staple this season, ranking among the nation's top ten in every defensive category, including first in scoring defense.
The game will mark the first against Alabama for Texas Tech and the ninth overall after New Year's Eve for the Red Raider program. In addition to the previous two Cotton Bowl appearances, the Red Raiders also played in the New Year in the 1938, '42, '48, '52 and '56 Sun Bowls and 1953 Gator Bowl.
Cotton Bowl officials announced last week that the game is a sellout and the only remaining tickets are available through the respective institutions' ticket offices. Pre-orders for Red Raider Club members and season ticket holders will be processed during the upcoming week. Tickets will be made available for purchase to the general public Mon., Dec. 12, once pre-orders are filled. Red Raider Club members and season ticket holders who did not submit pre-orders forms should contact the ticket office Monday. Student Red Raider Club members will have the opportunity to purchase tickets Thursday, and general student tickets will go on sale Friday. Ticket office hours are from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and the ticket office is located in the north end of Jones SBC Stadium.
Texas Tech Staff and Player Quotes
Assistant Head Coach Ruffin McNeil
On playing Alabama "They have played the most bowl games of any team in the history of football. They also have the most bowl wins of any team in the history of football and they have won 12 national championships, so as a program they have done a great job. Coach Shula came in there when the program was in dire straits and little bit down in between (coaching staffs) and he has done a great job. We are looking forward to playing them. They have a great defense as well as a very stable offensive; Coach Shula does a very great job there as well. We are looking forward to it, but it is going to be a very big challenge. We are going to have to work hard and stay focused going into that game."
Senior Offensive Lineman E.J. Whitley
On thoughts on playing in the Cotton Bowl "We are super excited and we have worked hard this whole year. I think that some of the younger guys are really excited because they have never been to a bowl game and for some of them it is going to be in their home town. A lot of guys are excited about playing in Dallas and playing Alabama. It is a great school with a lot of tradition we are really pumped about playing in the game."
On playing Alabama "We have heard a lot about it and while you are growing up you hear a lot about Alabama football and the things that they are good at. But we are pretty good here, too, and we have some mystique as well. We are pretty excited and pumped up."
Senior Quarterback Cody Hodges
On accepting bid to the Cotton Bowl "We are excited to finally know were we are going and we can now prepare a game plan. We have a had a week off to look back on the season and enjoy the good things that we did, but now it is time to refocus and begin to prepare for Alabama."
On playing in Dallas "Tech has a huge fan base in Dallas, so obviously we expect to have a lot of support there and I also expect a lot of people from the Lubbock area to travel as well. So in a way it will feel like a home game, but our job is to win a football game and not to worry about our family and friends being there."
Junior Cornerback Antonio Huffman
On playing in front of Red Raider fans "It is always pleasant and enjoyable to play in front of your home fans, but we have to worry about winning the game and can't worry about our fans and things like that. But at the same time it is exciting to play in front of our fans."
Senior Offensive Lineman Bryan Kegans
On playing in the Cotton Bowl "It is really exciting because you hear a lot about the Cotton Bowl growing up in Texas. My dad and a lot of the older people around here talk about the Cotton Bowl being one of the greatest games to play in and it is really exciting for us to be a part of that."