Chick-fil-A Bowl Primer: Duke vs. Texas A&M
By Eric Russell
It could be Johnny Manziel's final college football game. Or It could just be another anecdote to his legacy at Texas A&M (8-4). Duke (10-3) is continuing its climb up the football ranks. Regardless of how you look at it, the Chick-fil-A bowl is filled with storylines.
Fans can only hope it will live up to the epic bowl game in the Georgia Dome last season.
Motivation: Duke can have a positive ending to a dream season after being destroyed in the ACC championship game. While the 10-win season the Blue Devils currently have is respectable, an 11-win season complete with a bowl victory over an SEC opponent would be huge for the program on so many levels. The bowl will decide how we frame the Duke season. It could be the difference in the Blue Devils being real contenders or just taking advantage of the roller coaster ACC Coastal Division.
If You've Never Seen Them: Duke makes the two-quarterback system work for them. Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette have both done their jobs effectively throughout the season. Boone is more of a passing threat than Connette, who is a threat to break a big play with his legs. It should be interesting to see how the maligned Aggies defense does against the Blue Devils, who aren't exactly explosive.
Weakness: The Blue Devils didn't allow a ton of points often during the second half of the season, but aren't built to win shootouts. The 58-55 loss to Pittsburgh early in the season is an example. Tom Savage threw for 424 yards and six touchdowns. Also, four of Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee's 10 touchdown passes this season came against Duke. A lapse like that would be deadly for Duke in the bowl game. Those games were a long time ago, but when watching Duke, you can still see moments when the secondary breaks down.
Motivation: Texas A&M isn't where it wanted to be at this point. The season started with national championship aspirations. There's still the chance to end on a high note as opposed to a three-game losing streak, which is how the Aggies would close the year if they were to lose.
If You've Never Seen Them: Johnny Manziel has put up impressive numbers for the second consecutive season while shifting some of his production from his legs to his arm. He finished the regular season with 3,732 passing yards and 33 touchdowns. On the other end of 12 of those touchdowns was receiver Mike Evans, who has made a big impact for the Aggies. Evans has 1,322 receiving yards on 65 receptions this season. Expect them to connect a few times in the bowl game.
Weakness: The Texas A&M defense hasn't been able to stop many teams. They give up nearly 31 points per game (30.9) and only held two teams, SMU and UTEP, under 20 points. It won't help that the Aggies will be without star linebacker Darian Claiborne, who was suspended after being arrested on drug possession charges. Claiborne is tied for the team lead with 89 tackles.
Las Vegas Hilton Line: Texas A&M -11.5.
Related: Scouting The Chick-fil-A Bowl