Week 13 – Missouri at Texas A&M

Posted Nov 22, 2012

Week 13 Fearless Prediction – Missouri at Texas A&M

Missouri (5-6) at Texas A&M (9-2) Nov. 24, 7:00, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: It's not like the two former Big 12ers have a long history, playing each other just 12 times, but there have been some interesting and wild shootouts over the years. Mizzou has won the last three times and in five of the six meetings since 1999, but this time there's more on the line than there usually was back in the old league.

Texas A&M is on a four game winning streak highlighted by the big win over Alabama, but now it's about Johnny Manziel and his Heisman candidacy. With Collin Klein clunking and Manti Te'o not likely to get enough votes as a defensive star, the door is wide open for Manziel after his record-breaking season and brilliant performance against the Tide. The game and his performance might fly under the radar with Notre Dame and USC kicking off an hour after this starts, but you can bet the highlights will be coming fast and furious if No. 2 starts producing.

This is also big for A&M as a team, with an outside shot at a BCS game still on the table. Because of Manziel, and because the team is so hot, if Florida loses to Florida State and if LSU struggles against Arkansas, the BCS door could be open. But at the very least, going 10-2 in the first season in the SEC would be a wild success for a program that few thought could compete right away at a high level.

Things haven't gone as smoothly for Missouri, who needs the win to avoid missing out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004. It's been an uneven season for the Tigers with no ability to get any momentum whatsoever – there haven't been back-to-back wins all season. The offense isn't its normal self, struggling just to put up yards and without the typical explosion, but the defense has done a surprising job against most of the average teams. A win over A&M wouldn't make up for all the problems this year, but it would be a much-needed positive.

Why Missouri Might Win: Defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson is back after missing last week's loss to Syracuse. The defensive line is great at getting into the backfield, and having an NFL-caliber man in the middle should do wonders against an Aggie running game that tears off yards in chunks. The run defense is only allowing 141 yards per game, and the special teams are just strong enough to be a positive. The Tigers have to take advantage of an A&M team that's awful in turnover margin, they're going to have to win the field position battle, and they're going to need to keep Manziel from tearing off on big runs. However …

Why Texas A&M Might Win: It might be hard for the offense to move with quarterback James Franklin struggling to come back after suffering a concussion against the orange. He has been practicing, but it's not like the offense has been a well-oiled machine when he has been 100%. Pass protection and keeping the quarterbacks upright has been a problem for MU – most notably on national TV against Jarvis Jones in the loss to Georgia. Texas A&M's pass rush has tailed off a bit in recent weeks, but it has the quickness and ability ruin everything the Tiger attack wants to do with its midrange passing game. There's no real Tiger running game to carry the team, so if the Aggies can force several third-and-longs, It could be a long day.

What To Watch Out For: It's Johnny Manziel's last shot to impress the Heisman types, and while blowing up Missouri might not cement the honor, it should get him close. It has been an amazing first season with over 3,000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, 1,114 rushing yards and 17 scores, and enough razzle and dazzle to make all the highlight shows jumping. But A&M can't lose this week and he can't be mediocre – he needs to put up the big stats, and don't think the coaching staff doesn't know it.

What Will Happen: Missouri will come out guns blazing with a strong defensive performance for a half, and then Manziel will be Manziel with two big dashes in the second half to put the game away.

CFN Prediction: Texas A&M 34 … Missouri 23
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Texas A&M -22 O/U: 61
Must Watch Rating (5 – Beware of Mr. Baker, 1 – Life of Pi): 3