HOUSTON – Texas A&M and Northwestern have accepted bids to play in the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, the bowl organizing committee announced today. The Aggies will represent the Big 12 and the Wildcats will represent the Big Ten.
"This is a tremendous matchup for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas," said Heather Houston, executive director of the bowl. "Texas A&M has a huge and extremely loyal alumni base in the Houston area, and we're excited to host them in their final game as members of the Big 12. Northwestern has a dynamic, exciting offense and one of the brightest young coaches in the country. We look forward to hosting both teams and their dedicated fans throughout bowl week."
The 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas will kick off Saturday, Dec. 31, at 11 a.m. CST and will be televised on ESPN. The game will also air nationally on ESPN Radio and may be heard locally on ESPN 97.5 FM.
Tickets for the 2011 Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas range from $30-110 and may be purchased online at www.ticketmaster.com, on the phone at 832-667-2390 or in person at the Reliant Stadium box office inside Budweiser Plaza.
Texas A&M features one of the nation's most high-powered offenses and a high-pressure defense. Senior quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who played wide receiver his first two-plus seasons in College Station, is the only player in NCAA history to record more than 4,000 yards passing and 1,500 yards receiving as well as the only player to record a 400-yard passing game and a 200-yard receiving game. He has a number of options to throw to, led by junior receiver Ryan Swope, who set school single-season records for receptions and receiving yards this year. Defensively, the Aggies lead the nation with 43 sacks and are 15th in the country against the run.
Northwestern is bowl eligible for the school-record fifth consecutive season under head coach Pat Fitzgerald. The Wildcats are led on the field by senior quarterback Dan Persa, who is NU's career leader in pass efficiency and is fifth in school history with 34 career touchdown passes. Persa's favorite target is senior wide receiver Jeremy Ebert, who has posted two of the top five receiving seasons in school history. The Wildcats possessed the second-best offense in the Big Ten and the conference's best passing attack. Senior defensive lineman Vince Brown ranks fourth in school history with 19 career sacks, including 3.0 this season, and freshman linebacker Ibraheim Campbell leads the team in tackles with 81 stops.
The bowl has been affiliated with the Big 12 since its inception in 2006. This year marks the second year in which the bowl has been affiliated with the Big Ten. In 2010, Illinois beat Baylor 38-14 on Dec. 29 at Reliant Stadium behind 184 rushing yards from running back Mikel Leshoure, who was named the bowl's Most Valuable Player. The crowd of 68,211 was the second-largest in the bowl's history.