Week 13 - Texas A&M at LSU

Posted Nov 20, 2013

Week 13 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Texas A&M at LSU

Texas A&M (8-2) at LSU (7-3) Oct. 23 3:30, CBS

Why You Should Give A Hoot: There's still time to do something interesting. Neither one is in the SEC title chase anymore, but there's still a chance for Texas A&M to slide into a BCS game by winning the final two games on the road – Missouri is coming up next – while LSU is pushing for a decent bowl game. That might not be where the Tigers hoped they'd be at this point, but after losing to Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama, the 2013 season has become about keeping the ship from sinking further.

It's not like LSU has been bad, but the potential is there for the school's first four-loss season since 2009, and now the bar has been set much, much higher. This was one of the two teams to beat Texas A&M last season – Florida being the other – and not it's gut-check time. How does a team that's used to fighting for the national title play out the string? We're about to find out.

Texas A&M is the most fun bad team in the country. The chance was there late to beat Auburn in a 45-41 home loss, and there were plenty of opportunities to get the job done against Alabama, but overall, Manziel and the offense have been lights-out unstoppable, while the defense has given everyone a shot to keep up the pace. Winners of three straight and six of the last seven, the Aggies hae been impressive, but the best win came against Ole Miss, and now it's time to bag a big game.

Why Texas A&M Might Win: LSU isn't good enough to get into the backfield. Time and again, the inability to get to the quarterback on a regular basis proved to be a problem for the Tigers. They D has been decent enough against the run to get by, but against Manziel, generating pressure and making him be Johnny Football is a must. He might come up with the highlight reel moments when he's on the move, but he's proving to be every bit as dangerous when he drops back and makes something happen as a pocket passer. Give No. 2 time to work, and good luck. The result for the Tigers has been a shaky secondary that has to make too many plays – this Aggie receiving corps is going crazy against the mediocre defensive backfields.

Why LSU Might Win: The Texas A&M defense really is that bad. Does LSU want to pound away with the ground game? A&M doesn't do ball control, and while LSU isn't much better, it should be able to slow things down when needed and grind out the clock to keep Manziel on the sidelines. Without enough pressure from the defensive front, the Aggies have no prayer of handling the Tiger receiving corps – Zach Mettenberger should be able to do whatever he wants. The LSU offense might not be quite as exciting as A&M's, but it's even more effective. A&M is phenomenal at keeping the chains moving on third downs, but LSU's is better, leading the nation converting as a 58% clip.

Who To Watch Out For: It's generally acknowledged that Johnny Manziel is one of the front-runners for the Heisman, but he's not going to be named the second two-time winner if all turns out fine with the Jameis Winston issues. But if Winston ends up being charged with anything – or if this gets messy in any way – there's no other viable Heisman alternative to Manziel. Bryce Petty? C'mon. AJ McCarron? No.

Manziel has completed 73% of his passes with 31 touchdowns, and while he has given away 11 picks, he has to force things to make up for a disaster of a defense. Last year in the loss to LSU he ran for just 27 yards on 17 carries while throwing it 56 times for 276 yards – by far his lowest yards-per-attempt on the season. If he can engineer wins over the Tigers (LSU this week) and Tigers (Mizzou next), he might do more than just sit there congratulating Winston on Heisman night.

- Zach Mettenberger was awful last season against A&M, completing 11-of-29 passes for just 97 yards and a score in the 24-19 win. His career changed two weeks later against Alabama, but the A&M performance was easily the worst of his career. With two weeks off to prepare, the porous A&M defense will look like it's going in slow motion compared to what Alabama's defense did two weeks ago.

- The NFL scouts are always tuned in to top-shelf SEC games, but the receivers will get most of the attention. Texas A&M's Mike Evans might not be the No. 1 receiver off the board – USC's Marqise Lee and Clemson's Sammy Watkins might be fighting for that honor – but he's not going to be far off. There hasn't been a more dangerous target in America, averaging over 22 yards per catch using his big 6-5 frame and deceptive speed to crank out big play after big play. Last year he caught six passes for 76 yards against the Tigers. LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. is the slightly better prospect than his running mate, Jarvis Landry, but it's not by much. Landry has been steady, but he only has one touchdown catch in the last five games. Beckham has been streaky, but he has five 100-yard games on the year and has been the more explosive of the two.

- The first meeting between the two teams was in 1906 in a 22-12 A&M win. Two years later, on the way to a 10-0 season, LSU tuned up over the New Orleans Gym Club and Jackson B.R. of New Orleans – beating the two by a combined score of 122-5 – before whacking A&M 26-0.

What Will Happen: The Texas A&M disaster of a defense won't be able to hold serve long enough for Manziel to do his magic. He'll have a good game, but he'll also get beaten up. LSU will be alive and kicking right away, and it'll show from the opening quarter.

Prediction: LSU 45 … Texas A&M 38
Line: LSU -4.5 o/u: 71
Must See Rating: (5 Tiebreaker – 1 A Medea Christmas) … 4
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