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Date and Time: Tuesday, December 31st, 2013, 8:00 pm on ESPN
Game Line: Texas A&M -12 (from JustBet)
Over/Under: 75.5
2013 Free Chick-Fil-A Bowl Picks: In what Texas A&M Dukecould be the last college game for Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M Aggies take on the Duke Blue Devils in the Chick-fil-A Bowl from the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Duke Blue Devils are coming off a loss in the ACC championship to Florida State, but they still have their sights set on a bowl win. However David Cutcliffe guided the Blue Devils to their first ACC Coastal division championship. They have an impressive resume, with victories over previously ranked Miami and Virginia Tech, and had won eight games in a row before losing to Florida State. The Blue Devils don’t have eye popping offensive numbers yet they are well balanced. They average 234.4 yards passing and 173.7 yards rushing per game. They have two capable quarterbacks, in Brandon Connette and Anthony Boone. Boone has completed 66.2 percent of his passes for 1695 yards with 10 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. Connette actually has a better touchdown to interception ratio, with 13 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. They have 2 capable running backs in Jela Duncan (562 yds 5.0 avg) and Josh Snead (547 yds 6.1 avg). Their big receiving threat is junior Jamison Crowder, who has 96 receptions for 1197 yards and 7 touchdowns. The Blue Devil defense is allowing 408.5 yards per game this season, while allowing 5.50 yards per play.

Texas A&M comes into this matchup at 8–4 with all four of their losses coming against ranked teams. #3 Alabama, #2 Auburn, #16 LSU, and #8 Missouri. They ended the season with 2 straight losses on the road, at LSU, and at Missouri. Johnny Manziel might be playing his last game and he will want to send the Aggies out on a positive note. This year we’ve seen a better version of Johnny Football, who is more confident in the pocket. Manziel has completed 69.1% of his passes for 3732 yards with 33 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. 6’5″ wide receiver Mike Evans has benefited greatly from Manziel’s improvement, with 57 receptions and 1322 yards for 12 touchdowns. Texas A&M’s defense has taken a step back from last year averaging 460.3 yards per game surrendering 6.20 yards per play. The Aggies are also giving up 221.3 yards on the ground per contest, averaging 5.31 yards per rushing attempt.

Both defenses in this contest have given up their fair share of yards this season, and it should be a relatively high scoring game. Duke should be extremely motivated as no one expected this team to be in this big of a bowl. Texas A&M is dealing with questions on whether or not Johnny Manziel will go pro, which has to be some sort of a distraction. Texas A&M has a potent offense, yet their defense doesn’t pose a threat. The Aggies also ended the season losing two games in a row, so laying this many points with a team is risky, even though they come from the better conference. I expect Duke to be extremely focused for this matchup and to be competitive, but Manziel and the Aggies have just a bit too much offense for Duke to keep up. The Blue Devils will make it a game, but the Aggies should get the win.

2013 Free Chick-Fil-A Bowl Picks: Duke +12 Over 75.5
Free Chick-Fil-A Bowl Score Prediction: Texas A&M 43 Duke 35

 

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