The No. 5 Missouri Tigers have a shot at the outright SEC East Division crown and a place in the conference championship game if they can find a way to shutdown Johnny Manziel and the No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies on Saturday night at Faurot Field.
At 6-1 in the SEC, another win for the Tigers means keeping South Carolina at bay and ensures a date with either Alabama or Auburn in Atlanta. Missouri is also fifth in the BCS standings and another win could boost their chances of earning a first-ever BCS bowl game berth.
Manziel and the Aggies picked up their third loss of the season last week against LSU, the super sophomore quarterback’s worst game of the season. Going 16-for-41 for 224 yards, one touchdown and two picks, Manziel and the Aggies were run out of Death Valley 34-10.
Saturday could be one of the last times A&M fans see the Heisman winner in a college uniform, with the NFL a possibility in the spring. In last year’s regular season finale, Manziel lit up the Tigers for 372 passing yards and three touchdowns, while rushing for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Missouri defensive ends Michael Sam and Kony Ealy will lead the team’s stellar defense and pass rush against Manziel. The Tigers are first in the SEC with 35.0 sacks, with Sam and Ealy accounting for 16.5.
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The Tigers are also 15th in nation in points allowed and opponents are only gaining 3.4 yards per rush attempt.
Should Manziel find some time in the pocket, he’ll likely look for receiver Mike Evans, who’s tops in the SEC with 1,314 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns, and third with 61 receptions.
Missouri’s offense has also proven just as potent as the Aggies’s, averaging 39.7 points and 238 rushing yards a game. The offense ran smoothly under freshman quarterback Maty Mauk, who started four straight games after James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury.
Mauk struggled with his accuracy, but found his groove with five touchdowns three weeks ago at Kentucky.
Franklin returned in last week’s 24-10 win at Ole Miss, completing 12 of his 19 pass attempts for 142 yards, and junior running back Henry Josey rushed for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively the Aggies have struggled, giving up 30 or more points eight times this season. They are 13th in the SEC in points allowed and last against the rush, with opponents notching 5.3 yards per carry and 221 yards per contest.
Betting Odds: Missouri favored by 5 points
Over/Under: 71 points
Time: Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online Stream: Watch ESPN here.
Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Missouri 17