No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners (10-2 SU, 6-6 ATS)
Cotton Bowl Preview
Date/Time: Friday January 4th, 2013. 8:00PM Eastern
Where: Cowboys Stadium Arlington, T.X.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Tex A&M -4.5/OU +4.5
Over/Under Total: 72
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Texas A&M strived in their first season in the SEC this year posting a surprising 10-2 record highlighted by a marquee victory over Alabama. Prior to the season, most experts doubted the Aggies ability to contend in the rough SEC and questioned whether leaving the Big 12 was really a smart move. Instead the Aggies brought their Big 12 offensive swag into the SEC and led the conference in total offense averaging 552 yards per game. Additionally, QB Johnny “Football” Manziel brought the Heisman Trophy back home to the SEC becoming the first freshman to ever win the prestigious award. After so many accomplishments in their inaugural SEC season, ironically the Aggies find their selves slated to play one of the old powers from the Big 12 in this year’s Cotton Bowl. Perhaps a little conference pride will be on the line when the no. 9 Texas A&M Aggies meet the no. 11 Oklahoma Sooners inside Cowboys Stadium on January 4th.
Interestingly Cowboys Stadium is the ideal venue for this postseason match-up featuring two of the best offenses in the entire country with a lot of animosity between both schools. Typically that equals great football and odds makers evidently believe that as well if you consider the fact the Aggies are just slight 4.5 point favorites over the Sooners leading up until game time. Early betting action seems to favor the Aggies with nearly 2/3’s of the betting public going against the 10-2 SU Sooners. However, I wonder how much of that betting distortion is newfound love for Johnny Football? After all, Manziel is one of the most exciting players in the country and winning the Heisman Trophy cemented his place among college football’s elite.
On the year Manziel has been nearly unstoppable in Kevin Sumlin’s new offense. Manziel led the Aggies by throwing for 3,419 yards with a 68.3 completion percentage backed with 24 touchdowns and 8 picks. Manziel also led the Aggies in rushing with 1,181 and an SEC leading 19 rushing touchdowns. Now don’t get me wrong, Johnny Heisman (his new nickname) has been surrounded by some outstanding talent this season. Wide receivers Ryan Swope and Mike Evans are explosive receivers that have combined for just less than 2,000 receiving yards with 12 touchdowns. Tailbacks Ben Malena and Christine Michael have combined for more than 1,000 yards and 19 additional rushing touchdowns. Still, Manziel has been the perfect piece to the puzzle to make the Aggies’ offense truly elite. The question now is can Oklahoma find a way to slow down this Aggies offense?
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Oklahoma surely feels confident that they can score with the Aggies. The Sooners sport the 5th ranked overall offense in the country averaging 505 yards per game. Veteran QB Landry Jones has been solid hitting 65.5% passing for just less than 4,000 yards with 29 scores and 10 picks. The receiving game is led by one of the best receivers in the Big 12 in junior Kenny Stills (75 rec, 892yds, and 11TDs). Not to mention, Oklahoma has a pretty solid running campaign with Damien Williams in the backfield. Williams has posted 905 yards on the ground this season and provides just enough balance for the offense to keep opposing defenses guessing. With all the weapons on offense, Oklahoma should be able to move the football rather well against an average Texas A&M defense.
In my opinion, this game will be decided by the play of the Oklahoma defense. The Sooners defense has been quite the enigma this season plagued by inconsistency. Oklahoma ranks 44th in total defense giving up 378 yards and 24 points per game. Oklahoma’s defense had a few brilliant performances in wins against Texas, Texas Tech, and TCU. However, that same defense gave up big numbers in close wins against Oklahoma State and West Virginia. The Sooners defense gave up point totals of 48 and 49 in those two ball games. Obviously, Oklahoma cannot afford to give up those types of numbers against quite possibly the best offense they will play this season in Texas A&M. Therefore the play of the Oklahoma defense will be the deciding factor in this game.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I do not see Oklahoma slowing down Manziel very much but I am also not confident in either teams defenses to consider a strong play on the side. I like the over 72 and the fact that the total has gone over in 7 of the last 10 meetings between both teams. Take the over 72!
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