NCAA Football Preview: #9 Texas A&M vs. #11 Oklahoma

After Thursday’s Oregon vs. Kansas State game, which had promise to be an interesting one, it fell short.

For fans still looking for a college football fix before Monday night’s National Championship game, there’s Friday’s AT&T Cotton Bowl between Texas A&M (10-2, 6-2) and Oklahoma (10-2, 8-1).

This could be called a number of things including the Battle of the SEC vs. the Big 12, the Battle of Two Sick Quarterbacks or the Battle of Two Teams Who Really Wanted A BCS Bowl but regardless, it should be a good one with both teams riding five-game win streaks.

And if you need even more football sans NFL playoffs, there’s two additional NCAA games over the weekend.

There’s Saturday’s BBVA Compass Bowl with Pittsburgh vs. Ole Miss (-3.5, 53.5 o/u) and Sunday’s Bowl with Kent State vs. Arkansas State (-3.5, 61 o/u).

Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma

Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel

This match up will be interesting in so many respects. First, there’s Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M.

The freshman quarterback took the NCAA by storm this season and made history on numerous fronts.

Besides becoming the first freshman Heisman winner, he broke fellow Heisman Cam Newton’s SEC record with 4,600 total yards during the Aggies’ inaugural season in the conference.

But his real welcome to the SEC moment came in the Aggie’s 29-24 upset of then No. 1 Alabama on Nov. 10.

Manziel was 24 for 31, 253 yards and two touchdowns while also running 92 yards.

For the season, he threw 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns but also ran 1,181 yards with 19 scores. This landed him as the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player ever in one season to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards.

What will he do on Saturday? Most likely put on another show but Manziel does have his eye on the prize.

He said via ESPN after immediately winning the Heisman, “First and foremost, there’s the Cotton Bowl. From there, I have to be the guy who starts the motor for a run at the national title next year.”

While Manziel may have beaten Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron, has he faced a quarterback as good as Oklahoma’s talented veteran, Landry Jones?

Maybe not.

Once in the Heisman conversation, Jones still had a good final season at Oklahoma–not to mention his entire NCAA career.

Oklahoma QB Landry Jones

He threw for 3,989 (65.5 percent completion) and 29 touchdowns this season. On Nov. 17 against West Virginia, he set a school record with 554 yards and the next week had another 500-yard day in the 51-48 OT win against Oklahoma State. This landed him as the Big 12’s career leader for passing yards but there’s more.

Tag on 244 additional yards on Dec. 1 and Landry amassed 16,368 yards for his college career–the third highest in NCAA history. He also stands as the FBS’ first quarterback to pass for a minimum of 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons, reported ESPN.

Needless to say, look for a high-scoring game on Friday as A&M averages 552 yards per game while Oklahoma is right behind at 507 yards. Both teams average 40-plus points per game.

Texas A&M’s offense sits as No. 3 nationally in yards per game at 552.3 and scoring average at 44.8 while Oklahoma is similar statistically at 505.9 yards and 40.3 point averages, respectively.

And defensively, they’re very much alike: Oklahoma gives up 378.8 yards with 24.2 points per game as the Aggies give up 389.3 and 22.5 averages.

History is the SEC’s side; the conference has won its last four Cotton Bowls games. All of them came against the Big 12 with a Texas A&M loss to LSU just two years ago.

But the Aggies didn’t have Manziel then; he may be the difference maker for the win (-3, 72.5 o/u).

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