Free College Football Picks: Texas A&M at Missouri Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 11/29/2013
At the start of the year you might have looked at this game and imagined that it could have implications for a berth in the SEC Championship Game. Only the most imaginative would have guessed, though, that it would be the Tigers that were playing for their shot at immortality, while the Aggies are all but irrelevant. For Missouri it’s simple — win and they claim the SEC East and play the winner of the Iron Bowl in the SEC Championship next weekend. Lose and South Carolina earns the berth.
For a team that was picked by many to finish at the bottom of their division, this is a remarkable position for Missouri to be in. Texas A&M, meanwhile, is playing only for pride. They would finish fourth in the SEC West if they lose this game, but they likely will wind up there anyway — they would need to win and have LSU lose to a terrible Arkansas team to finish third. The difference between third and fourth is little, of course — neither means much — and Johnny Manziel’s Heisman hopes are essentially dead after last week’s disaster against LSU. It could be tough for the Aggies to get fired up for this one unless they take real pleasure in being dream-crushers.
Texas A&M at Missouri Betting Storylines
The Tigers have averaged just short of 40 points per game this year, and their running attack is the biggest reason for that. They have three running backs who have each amassed at least 550 yards, and Henry Josey has the worst average yards per carry of the group — with a stellar 6.1 yard average. This team knows how to gain yards on the ground, and they control the game as a result. The Aggies are just brutal against the run — 109th in the country with 221 yards per game against — so they are not in a good position here. Missouri will be looking to exploit this mismatch early and often.
Almost a year after winning a Heisman, Manziel was putting together a season almost as impressive as last year. But then last week happened. It was as if the LSU defense was in his huddle, and they made his life miserable all day. He was rattled and ineffective. Missouri has the advantage of a recent blueprint of how to beat Manziel. Of course, Manziel is very dangerous, and he can break out four or five touchdowns in a game at any point. Missouri knows that containing Manziel is the key to achieving their goals. Luckily, they have a pass rush that will make things challenging for Manziel and his offensive line. They have an SEC-best 35 sacks, and have been creative and aggressive throughout the season. Unless the Aggies can find a way to control the Missouri pass rush better than most have, they will be in trouble.
Missouri QB James Franklin returned to action last week after a long break due to injury. He looked solid but not sensational against Ole Miss. The game let him shake off the rust, so he should be close to his best in this one. That’s very good news for the Tigers. He is the fourth-leading rusher on the team despite playing only seven games, and he had thrown for 14 touchdowns with just three interceptions before the injury — while completing more than 67 percent of his passes. He’s a talented, dynamic quarterback, and he will give the Tigers their best opportunity to exploit the defensive weaknesses of the Aggies.
A factor that is significant in this game is unfortunately one we can only guess about. Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin is going to be in serious demand in the offseason. USC will throw cash at him, and Texas and Florida could too if they make a coaching change. He’s a pro and will be focused on this team. If the players have a sense that he is likely to give in to the temptation to jump to a bigger program, though, they might not be as focused and ready to give it all as they might otherwise be.
Texas A&M at Missouri College Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with the Tigers favored by five points at home. Nearly three-quarters of all bets have come in on the home team, yet the line has fallen to 4.5 points. That movement is a sign that sharp money has come in on the Aggies early on. The total sits at 66.5.
Five of the last seven meetings between these squads have gone “over” the total. The Aggies have gone over in seven of their last eight conference games. Missouri is a strong 7-1-1 ATS in their last nine games that have followed a straight up win. Texas A&M is 6-0 ATS in their last six games following a straight up loss.
Free College Football Picks: Texas A&M at Missouri Predictions
I just don’t trust this Aggies team. They were very flat last weekend, and they just didn’t look that concerned about it. I’m concerned about their mindset. They have massive issues on defense, and they are up against a team that has the ability to exploit those woes. Missouri has looked prepared and played hungry all year, and they know what opportunity they are presented with here. Their pass rush will be a major tool against the Aggies, and they will score points. With a spread of less than a touchdown, the Tigers are the clear choice.
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