This year’s Cotton Bowl Classic will be the first game to feature two top-10 nationally ranked teams. The 8th ranked Michigan State Spartans will travel south to face off against the 5th ranked Baylor Bears on New Year’s Day, January 1st, 2015.

Of the last five Cotton Bowls, three of them have had a team from Texas: Texas A&M qualified for both the 2011 and 2013 Classic. Both games had significantly higher demand than this year’s meeting. The 2011 matchup had the Aggies playing the LSU Tigers in a game LSU won 41-24. The average ticket price was $391, according to PrimeSport. The 2013 game was even pricier when Texas A&M, led by Heisman winner Johnny Manziel, soundly beat the Oklahoma Sooners 41-13. The average ticket price for the January 4th, 2013 clash was $421 and the cheapest tickets cost $158.

This year, you can find Cotton Bowl Classic tickets at PrimeSport for as low as $69. The average price is $218, just a little more than half of the two previous Cotton Bowls with a Texas participant.

The 2012 game featuring Kansas State and Arizona also had pricier tickets with an average price of $324, more than one hundred dollars higher than this year’s game. Only last year’s contest between Missouri and Oklahoma State was cheaper over the past five years with an average ticket price of $120 and a get-in rate of $26.

Even though ticket prices are not historically expensive, you can’t deny that Baylor and Michigan State are two of the best programs of 2014. Both teams had opportunities to make this year’s first ever College Football Playoff, but neither did enough to crack the top four. Michigan State hosted the fourth-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes late in the season, but lost 49-37 in East Lansing. Their previous loss also came against one of the final four teams as they visited Eugene on September 6th and fell to the Oregon Ducks 46-27 in a game that was much closer than the final score dictated.

Nonetheless, those two losses kept them on the outside looking in, especially the Buckeyes lost which ultimately eliminated them from playing in the Big Ten Conference Championship.

Baylor felt they deserved to play at one of the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Sugar Bowl and Rose Bowl, especially after their impressive 35-25 victory over Kansas State to end the season. They had wins against TCU and a dominant victory at Oklahoma this year, which many thought would be enough despite their 41-27 loss to West Virginia. But the Playoff Committee thought otherwise and awarded Ohio State the final seed in the playoff, rather than the Bears.

So that is how Baylor and Michigan State will come to meet on New Year’s Day. Though they may be secretly harboring thoughts of “what if,” both programs still did enough to get invites to one of the best six bowls available and will get to ring in the New Year together. The winner will be looking forward to another prosperous year, while the loser will be left just another “what if.”

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