College Football Chick-fil-A Bowl Handicapping: #24 Duke Blue Devils vs #21 Texas A&M Aggies

2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl
#24 Duke Blue Devils vs #21 Texas A&M Aggies

Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia
Tuesday, December 31, 2013, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Opening Line: Texas A&M -11 1/2
Current line: Texas A&M -12
Opening Total: 70
Current Total: 75 1/2
Opening Money Line: TAMU -440 / Duke +350
Current Money Line: TAMU -440 / Duke +350

Johnny Manziel could be playing in his last college game as the Texas A&M Aggies take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Tuesday night in Atlanta.
Johnny Manziel could be playing in his last college game as the Texas A&M Aggies take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Tuesday night in Atlanta.

It isn’t often that we are still talking about Duke football in late December rather than the school’s illustrious basketball program. However, the 10-3 Duke Blue Devils are having the best season in the football team’s history and will take on the 8-4 Texas A&M Aggies in the Chick-fil-A Bowl Tuesday night in Atlanta. Not only is this the last football game in 2013, it will also likely be the last college football game for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel who is predicted to declare for the NFL draft.

Duke won the ACC Coastal Division with a 6-2 record. The Blue Devils were dismantled by Florida State 45-7 in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte to snap an 8 game winning streak for Duke. Texas A&M went 4-4 in the SEC West and finished fourth. Duke and Texas A&M have never played each other in football before.

Duke is 3-6 all-time in Bowl games. The Blue Devils are playing in consecutive bowls for the first time in program history. Duke has lost 3 straight bowl games after losing to Cincinnati 48-34 in the Belk Bowl last year in Charlotte. The Blue Devils haven’t played an SEC team in a bowl game since they beat Arkansas 7-6 in the 1961 Cotton Bowl. That is also the last time Duke won a bowl game.

Texas A&M is 15-19 all-time in bowl games. The Aggies are making their  fifth straight bowl appearance and 22nd since 1985. Texas A&M has won 2 straight bowl games including 41-13 over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl last year. Before the two game winning streak, TAMU went 2-12 in their previous 14 bowl games. The Aggies have never played in the Peach/Chick-fil-A bowl before. Texas A&M hasn’t played an ACC team in a bowl since they lost to Florida State 10-2 in the 1991 Cotton Bowl.

Duke is coached by David Cutcliffe, who was named the national coach of the year. Duke lost their first two ACC games of the year at home to Georgia Tech 38-14 and Pittsburgh 58-55. The Blue Devils have home wins over North Carolina Central 45-0, Troy 38-31, Navy 35-7, North Carolina State 38-20 and Miami 48-30, along with road wins at Memphis 28-14, Virginia 35-22, Virginia Tech 13-10, Wake Forest 28-21 and North Carolina 27-25. Duke is 10-3 ATS and the total is 5-5 this season. The Blue Devils were a 30 point underdog against Florida State  and the total was 66.

Duke is outscoring teams 32-25 this season. The Blue Devils are #49 in scoring and #47 in points allowed out of 125 . Duke is averaging 408.1 yards per game on offense, including 234.4 passing and 173.7 rushing yards. The Blue Devils allow 408.5 total yards per game on defense, including 233.2 passing and 175.3 rushing yards.  The Blue Devils are +3 in turnovers with 26 takeaways. Duke averages 42 penalty yards per game and opponents average 55. The Blue Devils are 83/204 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 89/230. Duke has forced 23 sacks and allowed 16 this season. The Blue Devils are 45/53 scoring in the red zone along with 37 touchdowns and opponents are 34/42 with 26 touchdowns. Duke has 2 punt returns for touchdowns, 2 pick sixes, and 2 kick returns for touchdowns, and has allowed 2 punt returns for touchdowns, 2 pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown.

Duke uses two quarterbacks.  Anthony Boone has completed 63.9% of his passes for 1,833 yards with 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, along with 61 carries, 187 yards and 4 touchdowns. Brandon Connette has completed 62.1% of his passes for 1,212 yards with 13 touchdowns and six interceptions, along with 99 carries for 333 yards and 13 touchdowns. He is listed as questionable for undisclosed reasons.  Back-up quarterback Thomas Sirk is out indefinitely with a torn Achilles’ tendon, but hasn’t taken a snap this season.

Running back Jela Duncan has 113 carries, 562 yards with 3 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown catch.  Josh Snead has 90 carries for 547 yards, along with 3 catches. Juwan Thompson and Shaquille Powell will each get some carries and catches. Powell has 2 rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown. Little used running back Eric Adams is questionable with an upper body injury.

Receiver Jamison Crowder has 96 catches, 1,197 yards and 7 touchdowns, along with 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. Crowder also has 2 punt returns for touchdowns. Braxton Deaver has 40 catches, 484 and 4 touchdowns. Brandon Braxton has 36 catches, 344 yards and 2 touchdowns. Max McCaffrey has 26 catches for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns. Isaac Blakeney has 18 catches, 221 yards and 4 touchdowns. DeVon Edwards has 2 kickoff returns for touchdowns. Five defensive players and two offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.

Texas A&M is coached by Kevin Sumlin, who signed a contract extension with the school earlier this month. The Aggies have home losses to Alabama 49-42 and Auburn 45-41, along with road losses at LSU 34-10 and Missouri 28-21 to close out the regular season. TAMU has lost two straight games. Texas A&M has home wins over Rice 52-31, Sam Houston State 65-28, SMU 42-13, Vanderbilt 56-24, UTEP 57-7, and Mississippi State 51-41, along with road wins at Arkansas 45-33 and Ole Miss 41-38. The Aggies are 5-7 ATS and the total is 8-4 this season. Texas A&M was a 4.5 point underdog against Missouri and the total was 72.5.

Texas A&M is outscoring teams 44-31 this season. The Aggies are #5 nationally in scoring but #89 in points allowed. Texas A&M is averaging 538.2 total yards including 350.9 passing and 187.2 rushing yards. The Aggies are #4 in total offense, #7 in passing and #44 in rushing. On defense, TAMU is allowing 460.3 yards per game, including 239 passing and 221.3 rushing. The Aggies are #106 in total defense, #78 in pass defense and #111 in rush defense. A&M is -1 in turnovers with 20 takeaways. The Aggies average 54 penalty yards per game and opponents average 54. Texas A&M is 87/169 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 77/189. The Aggies have forced 20 sacks and allowed 21. TAMU is 56/70 scoring in the red zone with 50 touchdowns and opponents are 37/43 with 32 touchdowns. The Aggies have 3 pick sixes and a fumble return for a touchdown and have allowed one pick six.

Controversial and polarizing quarterback Johnny Manziel won the Heisman last year as a redshirt freshman and was a finalist this year. Johnny Football has completed 69.1% of his passes for 3,732 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 133 carries, 686 yards and 8 touchdowns. Back-up Matt Joeckel has thrown for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns. Kenny Hill has thrown for 183 yards and a touchdown, and also has 37 rushing yards.

Running back Ben Malena has 107 carries, 506 yards and 10 touchdowns along with 20 catches 184 yards and a touchdown. Trey Williams has 54 carries, 384 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 9 catches for 53 yards. Tra Carson has 58 carries for 308 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 3 catches for 38 yards. Brandon Williams has 44 carries for 269 yards and a touchdown, plus 5 catches and a touchdown.

Receiver Mike Evans has 65 catches for 1,322 yards and 12 touchdowns. Malcome Kennedy has 55 catches for 606 yards and 7 touchdowns. Derel Walker has 45 catches for 705 yards and 4 touchdowns. Travis Labhart has 44 catches for 550 yards and 5 touchdowns. Sabian Homes and LaQuvionte Gonzalez will also get some catches. Receiver Ricky Seals-Jones is out for the season with a knee injury. Four defensive players are listed as questionable to out Tuesday.

Duke is 6-0 ATS on fieldturf, 7-1 overall, 6-1 after a straight up loss of more than 20 points, 4-1 against teams with winning records, 12-4 after rushing for less than 100 yards, 19-7 after allowing more than  450 total yards, 8-3 in non-conference games, 1-5 after a straight up loss, and after allowing 40 points or more.

Texas A&M is 6-1 ATS after a straight up loss, 4-1 in non-conference games, 9-4 after allowing 200 rushing yards or more and after allowing 450 total yards or more, 2-5 in Bowl games and in December, 2-6 overall, 1-4 after failing to cover, and on fieldturf, 2-9 in neutral site games, and 1-5 against teams with winning records.

Duke has had a great season so far, no doubt about it. It was the first 10 win season in school history. The thing is they aren’t great on offense or defense either for that matter. I mean they aren’t terrible either, just average. It is a testament to Cutcliffe, that the Blue Devils have accomplished what they have this season. I don’t know if Duke can slow down Manziel and the high powered Aggie offense. If Texas A&M is motivated to be here after having dreams of a BCS Bowl earlier in the season, they should win this game with ease.

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