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Cotton Bowl preview: Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Cotton Bowl
Texas A&M (10-2) vs. Oklahoma (10-2)
Jan. 4, 8:00 p.m. ET (FOX)

About the Aggies: Pretty much all you need to know about Texas A&M football can be summed up in two words: Johnny Manziel. Manziel, better known as Johnny Football (or Johnny Heisman) is the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy and he’s every bit as good as advertised. He led the nation in total offense with 4,600 yards. He passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while rushing for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. He became the first SEC player and fifth player ever to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in a single season. He and the A&M offense should find some success against Oklahoma, which has struggled this season against dual-threat quarterbacks and high-powered offenses. A&M has both, so this could be quite an adventure for the Sooners.

About the Sooners: Oklahoma’s offense has been both good and bad this season and a lot of that depends on quarterback Landry Jones, Jones, who made the fateful decision to forgo being a top draft pick to play his senior season with the Sooners, threw for 3,989 yards and 29 touchdowns, but he also threw 10 interceptions, including at least one in each of the last six games. So with the offense a TBD, the defense will be counted on to keep the Sooners in the game and that’s a tall order considering it’s allowed at least 30 points in four of its last six games.

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(USA Today Sports Images)

Key number: 1
That’s the difference between the number of sacks Oklahoma has this season (24) and the number of sacks the Aggies have allowed this year (23). Texas A&M’s line struggled a bit early in the season, but once it got used to Manziel’s drifting out of the pocket, it seemed to get better. Containing Manziel will be Oklahoma’s highest priority.

The breakdown: Both of these teams made strong cases to be in BCS bowls and consequently, this should be a pretty exciting game with a lot of scoring and a lot of great quarterback play. Since winning the Heisman, Manziel has been a bit busy gallivanting all over the country doing interviews and going to NBA games, but here’s hoping his head is in the game for this one. In the games against teams most similar to Texas A&M’s offensive style (Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State), the Sooners have allowed 424, 778 and 490 total yards. They've also allowed 34, 48 and 49 points. The Sooners can get into track meet – it won each of those games – but Manziel and the A&M offense is so creative, the Sooners might not have the horses to finish in front in the end.

Predictions
Frank Schwab: Oklahoma 24, Texas A&M 21

The Aggies are a very good team, but so are the Sooners and don't think that Bob Stoops hasn't pointed out many times that Oklahoma isn't getting any attention in the buildup to this game. All eyes will be on Johnny Manziel, but look for Landry Jones to finish his career with a good performance and a win.

Graham Watson: Texas A&M 45, Oklahoma 42 Neither one of these teams plays a lot of defense, so I’m expecting this game to go back and forth similar to Oklahoma’s games against West Virginia and Oklahoma State. In the end, though, I think Johnny Football comes out on top to cap his fantastic freshman season.

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