No. 22 Texas A&M at No. 23 Louisiana Tech
Saturday, 9:15 p.m. ESPNU
Line: Texas A&M -7 (Sportsbook)
Some things get better with age. Special cheeses and wine. Honus Wagner's baseball card. And in this case, a non-conference match-up between Texas A&M and Louisiana Tech. What was originally scheduled for an entertaining week one match-up was pushed back later in the season due to inclement weather. Now we get a nice little match-up of top 25 teams. These two teams appear so similar in so many ways, so we should be in for a great game Saturday night. More importantly, this will be Louisiana Tech's opportunity to make a push in to the BCS conversation.
For Texas A&M to Win: Test the endurance of Louisiana Tech's linemen. The Bulldogs have a higher weight average on offensive and defensive line than A&M, but that does not necessarily mean they are better. Texas A&M will have to see if they can wear down the bigger linemen with physical play. This is a big test for Louisiana Tech, and if their guys on the line are not physically prepared for it they could slow down faster than in any other game they have played so far this season.
For Louisiana Tech to Win: Win the turnover battle. While the numbers between these two teams look nearly identical in a number of ways, one area Louisiana Tech has a slight edge on paper is the turnover margin. The Bulldogs have done well in securing the football on offense (just four turnovers all season) while the defense has taken the ball away 15 times.The Aggies have half that total. In what could be a very close game, turnovers will play a huge role.
Key Player, Texas A&M: Johnny Manziel, quarterback. Manziel has been pretty fun to watch this season for those who have not been paying attention. Last week Manziel helped lead two fourth quarter touchdown drives for the Aggies and he has not been afraid to tuck the ball and let loose with it on the fly. The freshman has rushed for 495 yards, seven touchdowns in addition to passing for 11 touchdowns while completing 69.3 percent of his passes.
Key Player, Louisiana Tech: Quinton Patton, wide receiver. Louisiana Tech has a trusty senior quarterback in Colby Cameron, with 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions on the year, but his top passing target is Quinton Patton, who is on pace to exceed his 2011 production (1,202 yards and 11 touchdowns a year ago). Patton has had three 100-yard receiving games this season, and he came three yards shy of a fourth two weeks ago.
Key Stat: Texas A&M is 11-4 as a road favorite dating back to 2003. In that same time frame the Bulldogs are 4-14 as a home underdog. While Louisiana Tech has struggled to pick up the wins as an underdog, they have a knack for covering the spread. Since 2003 the Bulldogs are 12-6 against the spread as a home underdog (Aggies are 7-8 against spread as road favorite).
What does it all mean? Texas A&M wins a tight one.