Heisman Hype, Renewed Rivalry Make for Highly-Anticipated Cotton Bowl

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DALLAS -- One step inside the Hilton Anatole in Dallas or the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, and you know it's that time of year: Cotton Bowl time.

"This year's Cotton Bowl has produced a ton of electricity," said chairman Tommy Bain. "It's a big deal!"

Both team hotels started buzzing Tuesday, with fans enjoying the hype and seeking autographs from players. And Cotton Bowl offices are open in both lobbies.

Bain said 2013 is proving to be a little different than years past, with A&M now representing the Southeastern Conference and Oklahoma still carrying the banner for the Big 12. But there's another selling point for fans this year.

"OU with its great tradition and Texas A&M being the state of Texas and all their fans, and of course this year, bringing the Heisman trophy, there's a lot of excitement in the North Texas area," Bain said.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel will be the first Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl in 15 years. The hype surrounding Manziel has plenty of fans interested.

"We're sold out, and it's a hard sell out -- one of the toughest tickets to get," Bain said. "And all of our events throughout the cities are packed. Everyone wants to share in what's going on with these football teams."

Bain expects many hotels throughout Dallas, Arlington, and Grapevine to be filled for much of the week and he said economic studies have shown the Cotton Bowl has a tremendous impact on North Texas. He said the bowl brings in more than $30 million annually.

"We feel like this match up is really the second-best match up in the nation [this] post-season, behind the National Championship game," Bain said.

Father and son Aggie fans Larry and Kyle Cahill of Flower Mound were already at the Anatole hotel Tuesday, to meet with an old friend. Larry admitted he's expecting to spend some cash this week.

"Yes we will, especially Friday," he said with a laugh.

Both universities have events for fans planned at various venues across town leading up to Friday night's game. Tickets on the website StubHub are selling for well above face value. A 50-yard-line seat behind the Aggie bench could run someone $1,400 or more.