It's Official: No. 8 Michigan State Vs. No. 5 Baylor In The 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic!
ARLINGTON, Dec. 7, 2014 - Green will be in vogue on New Year's Day at the 79th Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. No. 8 Michigan State will face the No. 5 Baylor Bears at 11:45 a.m. CST at AT&T Stadium in a battle of top teams from the Big Ten and Big 12.
The Spartans (10-2, 7-1 in Big Ten) will be making their first appearance in the Cotton Bowl. Michigan State is only the second Big Ten team to play in the Classic (Ohio State - 1987).
Baylor (11-1, 8-1 in conference) finished their second consecutive season atop the Big 12. This season, the Bears were conference co-champions with TCU and will be making their first Classic appearance since 1981 against Alabama.
"Michigan State and Baylor deserve to be rewarded for a fantastic season and rest assured, we will put on a great show for everyone involved," said Dan Novakov, Chairman of the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic. "Both the Spartans and Bears have much to be proud of this season. Our goal is to make their Cotton Bowl experience a memory of a lifetime."
The Spartans finished as runners-up in the Big Ten East Division with their only losses coming to College Football Playoff semifinalists Ohio State and Oregon. Baylor's lone blemish came at West Virginia. The Bears enter the Classic with their highest ranking ever at No. 5 in the final College Football Playoff rankings (No. 12 in 1975 and No. 6 in 1981).
Baylor's Art Briles becomes the third head coach to have played in the Classic as a player and lead his team to the Cotton Bowl as head coach, joining Ken Hatfield (Arkansas) and David McWilliams (Texas). Briles was on the Houston squad that defeated Maryland in the 1977 Classic, 30-21.
Eighth-year Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio will be making his eighth bowl appearance at MSU, setting a school record for most bowl appearances by a head coach (previous record: George Perles with seven from 1983-94).
The Classic kicks off at 11:45 a.m. CST on ESPN and will be the lead-in game to both College Football Playoff Semifinals, The Rose Bowl presented by Northwestern Mutual and the Allstate Sugar Bowl. For Cotton Bowl game tickets, fans are encouraged to contact Baylor and Michigan State directly.
RICK BAKER, PRESIDENT, GOODYEAR COTTON BOWL CLASSIC
"We are really excited about this matchup - No. 8 Michigan State vs. No. 5 Baylor. These rankings say it all. It's our highest ranked matchup in 21 years since the 1994 Cotton Bowl. Both Michigan State and Baylor are terrific football teams and outstanding institutions. The last time the Bears' played here was in the 1981 Classic. I managed to find tickets and attended the game as a fan. We have lots of wonderful friends with ties to Baylor. Michigan State brings a whole new dimension to the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. Aside from Penn State when they played as an independent, we have had only one other Big Ten team play in our game and that was Ohio State in 1987. So, it's going to be fun to bring the Spartans to our community and showcase our Texas hospitality.
ART BRILES, HEAD COACH, BAYLOR BEARS
"I guess the news now is the bowl game - the Cotton Bowl. For me, being a Texas guy, growing up in the state of Texas and playing in the Southwest Conference, that's the only bowl that existed. I mean, you're going to the Cotton Bowl. You're going to the best bowl around. I was fortunate enough to play in it in 1976. And when I was at the University of Houston, we beat Maryland in it. It's a great, great bowl. Over then it was really at the Cotton Bowl. Of course, now it's at Jerry's place, and it's even better. So I'm really, really excited about going to the Cotton Bowl. I think it's a great venue, without any question. It's a great opportunity for us to play a great Michigan State team on a national stage at a pretty convenient location for us. I haven't really had a chance to study Michigan State yet. I just know they've been very good the last couple of years. They were the defending Big Ten Champions this year."
MARK DANTONIO, HEAD COACH, MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS
"We're excited to go play Baylor in the Cotton Bowl. And, as I said before, the fact of the matter is I felt like we needed to be playing in one of these four other bowl games (New Year's Six). That's mission accomplished. We'll bring a football team there that obviously has won the Rose Bowl last year, Big Ten champions. And we'll bring a team there that's been able to overcome adversity and really sort of move the rock. We've done a lot of things here in the past four or five years."