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If you like points, this is your game. Texas A&M contests have averaged 74.5 points per game this season and to no one's surprise, the over/under is sitting around 75 points. The Aggies have disappointed this year in the SEC and get the surprise team of the ACC in Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. As expected, the Aggies are solid -11.5 point favorites at 5 dimes sportsbook.
The Blue Devils are getting no respect in this game because, well, they haven't been a solid football team in a long time. Everyone is just assuming the Aggies will dominate like Florida State did in the ACC Championship Game. Not so fast, though. Duke deserves some respect, putting 48 points on Miami (FL), winning at Virginia Tech, and when needed most, they won 27-25 at North Carolina in the final game of the regular season. The Dukies finished at 10-3 for the year.
It's always interesting to see what the public is doing in games like this and according to the betting trends at sportsbook.com, the public doesn't give Duke much of a chance as 69% of the wagers have come in on the Aggies. Surprisingly, the posted total is too high for the public as 85% of the wagers on that proposition have come in on the Under.
Texas A&M boasts a pretty pitiful defense which is the main reason it has an 8-4 record after being projected to be a Top 10 squad in the preseason. Sure, the Aggies played in the SEC, but that doesn't excuse the defense from allowing 41 points to Mississippi State, or 38 to Ole Miss or 33 to Arkansas. Even early in their first two games, Rice went for 31 points and Sam Houston had 28 against them. This defense struggles no matter who the opponent is.
That takes us to the Duke offense that has the ability to put up points. Quarterback Anthony Boone doesn't have the greatest numbers with 10 TDs and 11 INTs, but it's hit or miss with him. Nine of his interceptions came in three games, while all of his TDs came in four games. This could be one of those games that Boone scores in. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder (1,197 yards, seven TDs) is going to be a major problem for the defense. But Duke is actually better at running the football, although their leading RB is suspended which isn't a good start. Josh Snead (547 yards) and Shaquille Powell (337 yards) will be called upon the most, but backup QB Brandon Connette may also be used a good amount as he leads the team with 13 rushing TDs.
The main reason the public is on Texas A&M is simple, it's because of quarterback Johnny Manziel. Against a defense like Duke's, we could easily see 50 points from this offense. Despite getting shut down for 31 points total in their last two games, the Aggies will likely look better against this defense.
Manziel has looked better throwing the ball this year with 33 touchdowns and 3,732 yards, despite his 13 interceptions. Wide receiver Mike Evans (1,322 yards, 12 TDs) is almost impossible to stop with Manziel throwing to him. Manziel leads the team in rushing as well with 686 yards and eight TDs. The downfall for this offense may be its lack of a top running back. Ben Malena leads the way with 506 yards and 10 TDs, but he hasn't surpassed 10 carries in six straight games. Against a tougher defense like LSU or Missouri, that's something to worry about, but Manziel should have no problems moving the ball in this game. Not to mention, Manziel may decide to leave for the NFL, making this his final collegiate game.
Duke will be able to score, but how much is the question. Can they get up to 35 or 40 points, which would likely cover in this game?
The Blue Devils have covered in seven of their last eight games (non-cover vs. FSU) and are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games. The Aggies are 2-5 ATS in their last seven bowl games, 2-9 ATS in their last 11 neutral site games, and did not cover in four road games this year.
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