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Johnny Manziel, Aggies blocking Missouri’s path to Atlanta

James Franklin AP

The last time Missouri won a conference championship the nation was still in awe over Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon. Just two months after Armstrong took one giant step for man and one giant leap for mankind, Missouri opened the 1969 season with a 19-17 victory over Air Force. It was the first of nine wins for the Tigers that season, which ended with a Big 8 championship and a loss in the Orange Bowl against Penn State and Joe Paterno, in his fourth season as a head coach in State College. That is how long it has been since Missouri enjoyed a conference championship. It has been a long time to come for the school, and a victory on Saturday will present an opportunity to celebrate a conference championship generations in the making.

All that is standing in the way, for now, is Texas A&M and their 2012 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel. Get by the Aggies and then a date with Alabama or Auburn will await them in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.

Missouri needs to win this game in order to make a trip to Atlanta. A loss by Missouri will send South Carolina back to the SEC Championship Game for the first time since the 2010 season. South Carolina has already wrapped up their SEC schedule for the year — the Gamecocks host in-state rival Clemson, of the ACC, this weekend — and they own the tiebreaker with Missouri thanks to a head-to-head overtime victory on October 26 at Missouri. Missouri should be feeling good about their chances against Texas A&M after going on the road and welcoming back quarterback James Franklin to the field. Franklin completed 12 of 19 passes for 142 yards at Ole Miss in his first game back after missing time due to a shoulder injury. Maty Mauk filled in admirably in his place, giving Missouri head coach Gary Pinkell a little extra confidence in knowing his team can keep moving forward in the face of adversity.

Texas A&M is coming off a 34-10 loss at LSU last weekend. It was a game that forced many to suggest Manziel fell out of the Heisman Trophy race. To be fair, it was Manziel’s worst performance as a starting quarterback over the past two seasons, with the 2012 Heisman winner completing just 16 of 41 pass attempts for 224 yards and one touchdown and two interceptions. Manziel did not get much support though, with the Aggies getting gashed for 517 yards by LSU’s offense, including 324 yards on the ground. That will serve as the blueprint for Missouri this weekend as well, and should work out well. Missouri has the SEC’s second-leading rushing offense behind Auburn, averaging 238.0 yards per game. The Aggies have allowed a SEC worst 221.0 rushing yards per game. If Missouri sticks to the game plan and lets Henry Josey control the tempo with steady carries mixed in with some complimentary Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy, the Tigers should be able to have their way with Texas A&M at home.

The key to utilizing the running game to their advantage will be keeping Manziel and Mike Evans, the SEC’s best wide receiver, off the field as much as possible. The Aggies have quick-strike ability any time that duo is on the field, but Missouri will counter with one of the SEC’s more turnover-happy pass defenses. Missouri gives up a lot of passing yards, so Manziel should be able to rack up some good numbers in his regular season finale. Missouri also leads the conference in interceptions, with 18 to 14 touchdowns allowed, so Missouri will also likely come up with some Manziel passes at times. Capitalizing on them will be important as much as running as much clock as possible.

Missouri may not want to get in to a shootout with Manziel and the Aggies, but Texas A&M has come up short  in a pair of high-scoring games this season already s it should not be something Missouri fears.

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11 Responses to “Johnny Manziel, Aggies blocking Missouri’s path to Atlanta”
  1. joerevs300 says: Nov 27, 2013 9:37 PM

    I’m sorry, but even if Missouri tries to run the ball, I hardly believe they will “have their way” with Texas A & M.

    This is likely Manziel’s last game, absent the bowl game, in a Texas A & M uniform.

    All the pressure is on Missouri in this game. They haven’t had success like this in nearly 50 years. Ask Baylor what happens when those lights get a lot brighter when you’ve never been their before. They got trucked in their biggest game in decades too.

    I would expect a game into the 30’s, but I think A & M has the superior QB, and even though it’s college, not the NFL, that’s a huge difference.

  2. Deb says: Nov 27, 2013 10:06 PM

    As a Mizzou grad, I couldn’t be happier for the Tigers and hope they beat the tar out of fellow SEC newcomer A&M. But as a lifelong Bama fan and SEC watcher, I think the road to a championship in this conference is considerably more difficult than it was in the old Big 8. If the Tide were to face Mizzou, I’d never underestimate the Tigers. But they shouldn’t underestimate the teams from Alabama, either.

  3. 8to80texansblog says: Nov 27, 2013 10:43 PM

    “That will serve as the blueprint for Missouri this weekend as well, and should work out well.”

    Except Mizzou doesn’t have a Jeremy Hill, or Tre Mason, or TJ Yeldon…. Now You don’t need to be Jeremy Hill to run on the Aggies but the 3 teams that have beaten the Aggies have 3 of the best RBs in the conference.

    I think Mizzou will win unfortunately but don’t count out Johnny Football.

  4. missouriman4ever says: Nov 27, 2013 11:29 PM

    I’d take Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough, and Marcus Murphy over any LSU running back anyways. I’m not hating on them, they are good, just a different type of back. Mizzou has the SEC’s 2nd best rushing offense yet no one here thinks us running the ball on A&M is going to work very well? I don’t know how you get to that conclusion but hey, that’s your opinion.

  5. pike573 says: Nov 28, 2013 2:08 AM

    In 2010 when Josey was healthy he ran for 162 yards against tamu.

  6. edcolton says: Nov 28, 2013 2:41 AM

    Alabama would beat Missou by 2 touchdowns at least. Bet on it! Tide just too good.
    give the Tigers another year to growl. They beat A&M by 10

  7. geodude11 says: Nov 28, 2013 8:56 AM

    “To be fair, it was Manziel’s worst performance as a starting quarterback over the past two seasons,” The Tigers beat the boy like a redheaded step child, Again! He won the Heisman last year in a down year, there are centers and guards more deserving this year. The idiot journalists in the Houston Chronicle are talking about the loser Texans trading down to get to chump Manziel, stupid is what stupid does.

  8. dhardy8207 says: Nov 28, 2013 11:16 AM

    If they can interrupt his rhythm with passing the ball get in his face and stay there they have a viable chance to beat aTm. Auburn did it and he was pitching a tantrum on the sidelines….

    It will be interesting to see how Mizzou handles the Aggies. I am pulling for Mizzou because I believe they make a better opponent in the SEC Championship that the SCAR….

  9. spudchukar says: Nov 28, 2013 2:26 PM

    If Mizzou beats A & M, and then upsets Alabama/Auburn will they leap frog Ohio St. in the BCS standings?

  10. geodude11 says: Nov 29, 2013 9:57 AM

    Manzeil’s thin surface finish is worn off, MO should pummel the boy as others have.

  11. stevequinn says: Nov 30, 2013 12:50 AM

    aTm’s porous defense will not be able to stop Missouri. The question is, can Missouri stop Manziel? I think this will be a high scoring game with the team who has the last possession winning the game.

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