DALLAS, DEC. 31 -- Notre Dame's football team will play in its fifth Cotton Bowl on New Year's Day, this time hoping to salvage a season that the University of Miami's team virtually ruined.

The 12th-ranked Fighting Irish (8-3) and 13th-rated Texas A&M (9-2) will meet for the first time Saturday. Notre Dame has played football 100 years and Texas A&M 93.

Neither team can hope for much more than making the Top Ten in the 52nd Cotton Bowl Classic (WUSA-TV-9, WBAL-TV-11, 1:30 p.m.). But the Irish want to make up for a 24-0 loss to Miami in the last game of the regular season.

"We have something to prove to ourselves as well as the rest of the country," Irish Coach Lou Holtz said. "Miami whipped us like a yard dog. A&M is capable of doing the same thing."

For the third time in four years, the Heisman winner will play in the Cotton Bowl. This time, he's Notre Dame's Tim Brown, who played high school football at Dallas' Woodrow Wilson.

"It will be very special for me to play in the Cotton Bowl," he said.

He almost didn't make it. He barely escaped injury Tuesday night in a car accident that involved a Woodrow Wilson student.

"The hardest hit I've had this year, but I'm just fine," Brown said.

Texas A&M safety Gary Jones will draw the job of shadowing Brown. Jones inherits the responsibilities of Chet Brooks, who broke a leg in A&M's regular season finale.

The Aggies will be in their third straight Cotton Bowl and sixth overall. They lost to Ohio State last year, 28-12, and defeated Auburn and Heisman winner Bo Jackson, 36-16, in 1986.

Notre Dame's last Cotton Bowl was in 1979 when Joe Montana threw a scoring pass on the last play to defeat Houston, 35-34.

In other Cotton Bowl games, Notre Dame beat Texas, 38-10, in 1978; beat Texas, 24-11, in 1971; and lost to Texas, 21-17, in 1970 when the Longhorns won the national title.

The Aggies will start a freshman quarterback this time, Bucky Richardson. Notre Dame's quarterback, Terry Andrysiak, is a senior. Both coaches waited until this week to name their starters.

A capacity crowd of 72,032 was assured with 600 folding chairs to be put along the sidelines.

Besides Brown and Jackson, the other Heisman Trophy winner to play in the Cotton Bowl in the 1980s is Doug Flutie of Boston College.

Six Heisman Trophy winners have played in the Cotton Bowl the year they won the award, Doak Walker (1949), Roger Staubach (1964), Earl Campell (1978), plus Flutie, Jackson and Brown.

Texas A&M will have a Heisman Trophy representative at the game, Athletic Director John David Crow, the 1957 winner.

It's the first Cotton Bowl for Holtz, who has been to the other major bowls as a player, head coach and assistant coach.

"I've never had a team treated any better than we've been treated at this bowl," he said. "The hospitality has been magnificent."