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Cotton Bowl breakdown: Texas A&M

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SDS will be breaking down every bowl game and what to watch for. Check out the Texas A&M-Oklahoma preview if you haven’t already.

The Game: #9 Texas A&M vs. #11 Oklahoma

What’s at stake: An electrifying 11-win inaugural SEC season
The former Big 12 Aggies will take on their once Big 12 foe Oklahoma in the Johnny Cotton Bowl. And a win will complete a virtually glorious season for the Aggies, who look to have the most momentum of any team in the state of Texas. They are recruiting lights out; they have the Heisman Trophy winner returning for his sophomore year and a sure-fire, top-flight head coach in Kevin Sumlin. Under Sumlin, the Aggies have nearly already completed the best possible season with 10 wins in their new conference. Sumlin led the Aggies to a perfect 6-0 record away from College Station, and he’ll look to make that 7-0 at JerryWorld. Exiting 2012 with 11 wins in only their first season in the SEC is head shakingly awesome. Could national championships be in the Aggies’ future? Eleven wins and beating Oklahoma is a massive momentum builder for the offseason.

Why Texas A&M will win: Outscore the Sooners
This game has all the makings of a sick, high-flying shootout in Arlington. Both defenses can limit either offense at times if assignments are taken care of, but that’s a tall task to shut down both quarterbacks. Therefore, the Aggies will need to score as many points as humanly possible. And that hasn’t been a problem for Sumlin and Johnny Manziel this season, although this will be the first game not called by offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury since heading to Texas Tech. The Aggies averaged 44.8 points per game in ’12, with over 550 total yards of offense per game. Oklahoma averaged 40.3 points per game and over 506 total yards of offense per game. It has the makings of an instant classic. This sexy offensive matchup is easily the third best bowl of the season.

Why Texas A&M will lose: Defensive secondary
We know all about Damontre Moore, Jonathan Stewart and Sean Porter, but the secondary is the unit that has been circled by the Sooners’ coaching staff. OU ranks 5th in passing offense, averaging 341.8 yards per game, while Texas A&M’s pass defense is ranked just 81st in the country. This is the obvious mismatch, and the Sooners will look to attack the secondary down the field with receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown. OU has three players with over 50 catches, and a fourth with 41 catches. Jones could have a field day with the Aggies if the secondary doesn’t come to play.

3 players Texas A&M must stop: QB Landry Jones, WR Kenny Stills and S Tony Jefferson
We’ve talked about the mismatch the secondary has with Jones, Stills and the cast of receivers. Jones has thrown for 3,989 yards and 29 touchdowns, and Stills has caught a team-high 75 passes for 892 yards and 11 touchdowns. ‘Jones to Stills’ is what the Aggies are used to seeing in the Big 12, and it will take a great effort from the secondary to limit explosive plays in the passing game. Keep your eye on OU safety Tony Jefferson, too. He’s only 215 pounds, but he hits like he’s 240 pounds and is a sure tackler. Jefferson is a future NFL player, and I can’t wait to see a Jefferson-Manziel one-on-one matchup in the open field. Who are you taking?

3 players for Texas A&M who must play well: QB Johnny Manziel, DE Damontre Moore and CB Deshazor Everett
It’s no mystery Johnny Manziel must have a great game. When Manziel goes, the offense goes, too. However, Heisman Trophy winners don’t usually fare well in bowl games after their big night in New York. Manziel should be different, though, as his creativity is going nowhere anytime soon. When Manziel plays well, it creates opportunities for the running backs and receivers also. Damontre Moore must be a monster in the trenches. He’s tied for second in the SEC with 12.5 sacks and third in tackles for loss with 20. Moore needs to create havoc off the edge when Oklahoma is in passing situations. And lastly, corner Deshazor Everett must have a big game. He’ll likely be matched up with Kenny Stills for most of the night, and he’ll have his hands full.

MVP prediction: QB Johnny Manziel
Surprise – I picked Manziel as the MVP. Bored yet? If Texas A&M wins this football game, it will be a shootout, and because of Manziel. His creativity is sexy, and his slipperyness in the open field is envious. Oklahoma lost to the dual-threat and third best player – according to the Heisman – in the country in Collin Klein. Manziel averages 383.3 yards per game, and I think he reciprocates what he’s done all season and delivers Aggie land another win – this time with more hardware in tow.

Photo Credit: John David Mercer-US PRESSWIRE





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