WHO: 8-4 Texas A&M (SEC) vs. 10-3 Duke (ACC)
WHAT: Chick-fil-A Bowl (46th year)
WHERE: Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia
WHEN: Dec. 31 at 8 p.m. ET
WHY: A game that marks the first-ever meeting between the two football programs is rife with myriad storylines throughout.
On the one hand, you have the Blue Devils, who are looking to put a bow on top of a rather remarkable season. Duke has won 10 games in a season for the first time in the school’s history, winning its first-ever ACC division title in the process. Another first? The Blue Devils are playing in a bowl game in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the school began playing football in 1922. During the six seasons under David Cutcliffe, the Blue Devils have won 31 games; in the 16 seasons prior to Cutcliffe’s arrival, Duke won just 35 games.
Another subplot to the actual game is Johnny Manziel. The odds are very good that Johnny Football will be playing his final game in an Aggies uniform, and the 2012 Heisman winner will, as always, be looking to go out in his own imitable style at the expense of the Blue Devils. The Chick-fil-A Bowl could also mark the final collegiate game of Manziel’s top target, wide receiver Mike Evans.
At least statistically, this game is shaping up to be a shootout. Neither team possesses a defense that finished in the Top 40 in scoring. The Blue Devils, in particular, should be able to take advantage of an Aggies defense that given up an average of 30.9 points per game, a total that’s 88th in the country and 13th in the SEC ahead of only woeful Kentucky. It remains to be seen, though, if Duke can keep pace with an Aggies offense that’s fifth in the nation with 43.6 points per game. In the ACC title game, Duke allowed 45 points to a Florida State team that came into the game averaging 53 a game.
PREDICTION: Texas A&M 48, Duke 44