College football is American football played by teams of student athletes fielded by American universities, colleges, and military academies, or Canadian football played by teams of student athletes fielded by Canadian universities. It was through college football play that American football rules first gained popularity in the United States.
American football (known as football in the United States and gridiron in some other countries) is a sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field 120 yards long by 53.33 yards wide with goalposts at each end. The offense attempts to advance an oval ball (the football) down the field by running with or passing it. They must advance it at least ten yards in four downs to receive a new set of four downs and continue the drive; if not, they turn over the football to the opposing team. Points are scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown, kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal or by the defense tackling the ball carrier in the offense's end zone for a safety. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
American football evolved in the United States, originating from the sport of rugby football. The first game of American football was played on November 6, 1869 between two college teams, Rutgers and Princeton, under rules resembling rugby and soccer. A set of rule changes drawn up from 1880 onward by Walter Camp, the "Father of American Football", established the snap, eleven-player teams and the concept of downs, and later rule changes legalized the forward pass, created the neutral zone and specified the size and shape of the football.
The Cotton Bowl Classic is a college football bowl game that pits a team from the Big 12 against a team from the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). Between 1937 and 2009 the game was played at its namesake stadium in Dallas, Texas. The game hosted the champion of the Southwest Conference until that conference's dissolution in 1996. The other invited team was often the second-place or third-place finisher in the Southeastern Conference or a major independent.
Currently, the Cotton Bowl selects its teams after the participants in the five Bowl Championship Series games and the Capital One Bowl have been selected. In total, these games take either one or two teams from the Big 12 and either one or two teams from the SEC (although the Big 12 does not have an affiliation with the Capital One Bowl like the SEC does). The Cotton Bowl organizers choose from the remaining Big 12 teams and usually chooses the conference's runner up if that team is not BCS qualified. That team is usually paired with the SEC West's second place team, as the division winner is either guaranteed a slot in the BCS or the Capital One Bowl (which usually takes the losers of the SEC and Big Ten championship games).