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).