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Chick-fil-A Bowl: Can Duke spoil what might be Johnny Manziel’s final collegiate game?

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday

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Will the Chick-Fil-A Bowl be Johnny Manziel's last college game? (USA Today Sports)

Chick-fil-A Bowl
Duke vs. Texas A&M
Atlanta, Georgia
Dec. 31, 2013

Duke’s ascent to the ACC Championship Game was one of the more compelling storylines of the 2013 season. After starting off the year 2-2, the Blue Devils (10-3) reeled off eight straight wins before falling to Heisman winner Jameis Winston and top-ranked Florida State in the conference championship. In Tuesday’s Chick-fil-A Bowl, the Blue Devils will face another Heisman winner – Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.

Manziel could potentially be playing his final collegiate game ever for the Aggies (8-4). The redshirt sophomore has fascinated the college football world over the last two years with his acrobatic style of play (and off-field incidents), but could be on his way to the NFL next year. He closed his 2013 season with uncharacteristic performances against LSU and Missouri, so Johnny Football will definitely be geared up to put on a show against the Blue Devils. Mike Evans, Manziel’s favorite target, might also be NFL-bound. The 6-foot-5 wideout is a matchup nightmare who caught 65 passes for 1,322 yards (20.3 YPC) and 12 touchdowns on the season.

While A&M’s offense is one of the most explosive units in the country, the Aggies’ defense is nothing special. The Blue Devils often use two quarterbacks – juniors Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette, but no matter who is throwing the ball, it is probably headed toward junior wideout Jamison Crowder. Crowder caught a school-record 96 passes for 1,187 yards. He should have plenty of chances to make plays against an A&M defense that gives up 460.3 yards per game, especially with Duke’s leading rusher Jela Duncan suspended for the game.

MASCOT FIGHT

This is one of the worst matchups thus far. As far as Duke is concerned, there’s obviously no such thing as a “blue devil.” On the A&M side, an “aggie” is simply a student at the university and the mascot is a collie named Reveille.

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Yes, this is Texas A&M's mascot. No, I'm not kidding. (USA Today Sports)

They’re both pretty lame, but I’ll give the fictional Blue Devil the nod.

PREDICTIONS

Graham: Texas A&M 48, Duke 28. This is the moment for Johnny Manziel and receiver Mike Evans to shine. It's likely their final game in A&M uniforms and they're going to want to go out with a bang. Duke struggled against the best offensive team it saw this season - Florida State - and should have even more problems with one of the nation's top offensive units in A&M. Duke will be able to score on A&M's porous defense, but it won't be able to keep up with Johnny Football and company.

Nick: Texas A&M 45, Duke 34. Johnny Manziel says he's healthy, though he didn't show it on that missed layup attempt. Johnny Football goes out in style, hooking up for three touchdowns with Mike Evans. However, Texas A&M's sieve of a defense is too easy for Duke to carve up and this game stays close all the way until the end of the fourth quarter.

Sam: Texas A&M 44, Duke 28. If this really is Manziel’s last game, I’m expecting a fantastic performance. David Cutcliffe and Duke have done a fantastic job this season, but they really don’t match up with the Aggies athletically. Duke’s defense gave up 569 yards to Florida State. A&M will have similar success.

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