2013-14 Texas A&M Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Alan Matthews - 5/22/2013
If you had Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy last season as a redshirt freshman and Texas A&M winning 11 games -- including a shocking upset of eventual National Champion Alabama -- well, I'd like your take on what the next powerball winning numbers will be.
Manziel was a total unknown entering the year but a sensation under Aggies first-year coach Kevin Sumlin -- who didn't even recruit Manziel -- and his read-option offense. Manziel, who could enter the NFL Draft after this season if he wanted because he redshirted a season, became the first freshman in Division I history and fifth player ever with 3,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards in a season. He set freshman records for rushing yards by a quarterback (1,343) and for total yards in a season (5,116, an SEC record for any player). He had two games of at least 557 total yards, both SEC records, and accounted for a whopping 47 touchdowns.
The previous best finish by a freshman in the Heisman voting was Oklahoma's Adrian Peterson, who was runner-up to Southern Cal QB Matt Leinart in 2004. Manziel joined John David Crow as A&M's lone winners, with Crow taking it home in 1957. The 55-year gap between Heisman winners is the longest for any school.
What can “Johnny Football” possibly do for an encore? What can the Aggies do for an encore after their first Top-5 finish since 1956? A&M does bring back six starters on each side of the ball, although the loss of offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft, can only hurt even if current A&M tackle Jake Matthews might be better. Manziel also lost second-leading receiver Ryan Swope (72 catches, 913 yards, eight touchdowns), but top receiver Mike Evans (82 catches, 1,105 yards, five touchdowns) and No. 1 running back Ben Malena (808 yards, eight touchdowns) return. The team also adds two talented transfer running backs in Brandon Williams (Oklahoma) and Tra Carson (Oregon), who sat out last year, and a couple of stud receiver recruits. The defense will definitely miss leading tackler and sacker Damontre Moore.
I probably don't need to remind anyone how hard it will be for Manziel to repeat as the Heisman winner considering only one player has ever done it. I guess working in his favor is that a player from a southern school has won it six years in a row. But if Tim Tebow couldn't repeat -- and while Manziel is incredibly popular, he's not Tebow -- then I don't think anyone can.
Texas A&M Schedule Analysis
As is generally the case with all SEC teams, the Aggies' nonconference schedule is laughable, and every game is at home: Go ahead and chalk up wins over Rice, Sam Houston State, SMU and UTEP. I guess at least A&M is nice enough to schedule in-state teams. The Owls could provide a bit of an offensive test. They finished 2012 at 7-6, winning their final five games and stomping a solid Air Force team in the Armed Forces Bowl. Nineteen starters are back from that Owls club. Coach David Bailiff probably won't be at Rice much longer as a bigger program will snap him up. Owls QB Taylor McHargue is a poor-man's Manziel, passing for 2,209 yards and rushing for 667 a year ago, totaling 23 touchdowns. Rice didn't face a ranked foe in 2012 but did open against what turned out to be a good UCLA team that beat the Owls 49-24.
The Aggies, of course, play every SEC West team, with the Tide visiting on Sept. 14 -- if Alabama doesn't lose that game, I'm not sure it does lose one, and it will be coming off a bye week. It's Bama's first visit to College Station since 1988. A&M does have tough road trips to Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU and Missouri, but at least it avoids any of the stud East Division squads like Florida, South Carolina or Georgia.
2013-14 Texas A&M Betting Odds and Trends
All odds courtesy of 5Dimes and BetOnline. Manziel is the +600 Heisman favorite. The Aggies are +1000 to win the National Championship, +500 to win the SEC title game and +400 to win the SEC West (third behind Alabama and LSU). The Aggies are 28.5-point Week 1 favorites against visiting Rice. A&M was 8-5 ATS last year (3-3 at home) and 4-7 “over/under” (2-2 at home).
2013-14 Texas A&M Predictions and College Football Picks
Certainly, the Aggies will be favored in every home game other than Alabama, and I'd fully expect A&M to finish 7-1 at Kyle Field. I really don't expect them to go into LSU, even with all the Tigers lost to the NFL, and win. I also think the loss of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury -- now the head coach at alma mater Texas Tech -- will sting a bit. Thus, I don't see the Aggies reaching 7,000 total yards again as they did in 2012 (first SEC team to do it). Manziel will not win another Heisman. It's too hard to live up to favored expectations these days. Plus, I could see him handing off more in 2013 with a stacked backfield.
I would take Rice and the points in the opener (total probably will be set around 65). I'd also expect the Aggies to finish the regular season 10-2, losing only to the Tide and Tigers. Unfortunately, two league losses surely won't cut it to win the West. The late-season defeat to LSU also likely would knock out A&M from a chance at a BCS bowl. I, then, would expect Manziel to declare for the draft.
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