Miller's Heisman Chase Could Be Ohio State's Bowl

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) runs during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012. Ohio State won the game, 52-49.
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The choice has come down to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans or the Cotton Bowl, now played at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The SEC has had a long and prosperous relationship with the Sugar Bowl and the city of New Orleans. Atlanta is the conference's eastern hub and the site of its championship game. New Orleans is its western home base, and the place it goes to party after the season.

The Big 12 has been sending teams to the Cotton Bowl for a long time, but the city of Dallas has not always been embraced by all the conference's members. Most of the northern members of the Big 12 voted against moving the league offices to the Dallas area out of Kansas City, Mo., after the Big Eight became the Big 12 in 1996. Of course, two of those members — Missouri and Nebraska — are now gone.

If the choice simply came down to venue, Jerry Jones' billion dollar stadium would win in a landslide over the perfectly functional — but not nearly as audacious — Superdome.

Cowboys Stadium holds close to 90,000. The Superdome can hold about 76,000. More tickets equals more revenue.

But fans love going to New Orleans. No city does big sporting events better.

Ultimately, there will be no loser. Whichever group doesn't land the Champions Bowl will still end up in the semifinal rotation for the new playoff system starting in 2014.

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HEISMAN WATCH

They call him Johnny Football, and in the next few weeks we'll find out if Texas A&M redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel can also be called a serious Heisman contender.

A dual-threat quarterback running coach Kevin Sumlin's spread, Manziel is second in the nation in total offense (392 ypg) for the 20th-ranked Aggies.

On Saturday, No. 6 LSU comes to College Station. After that, the Aggies play three road games in three weeks against Auburn, No. 15 Mississippi State and No. 1 Alabama.

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QUICK HITS

— Arizona State coach Todd Graham received plenty of criticism for leaving Pittsburgh after just one season. It's time to give Graham some praise for leading a team with only eight returning starters to a 5-1 start. There is much heavy lifting to come, though. ASU's schedule is backloaded, starting Thursday night when No. 2 Oregon comes to Tempe.

— For all of Wisconsin's issues, you can just about guarantee the Badgers are heading toward their second consecutive Big Ten title game, with a chance to go to a third straight Rose Bowl. With Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for the Legends Division title, and Purdue, Indiana and Illinois a combined 0-8 in the league, Montee Ball and the Badgers (5-2, 2-1) should be able to get to Indianapolis with two more league victories. They play Minnesota this week and are at Indiana on Nov. 10. That should do it.

— The only winless teams left in FCS are Mid-American Conference rivals Massachusetts (0-6) and Eastern Michigan (0-6), and, stunningly, Southern Mississippi (0-6). The Conference USA champions and were expected to contend again under new coach Ellis Johnson, but instead will need to win out to avoid the program's first losing season since 1993.

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LAST WORD

"I know I've got time to fix it and I know I can." Texas coach Mack Brown, whose team is coming off a 63-21 loss to Oklahoma.

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AP sports writers Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, and Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, contributed.

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Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphdrussoAP

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