ATLANTA, GA -- History will be made when the 2013 Chick-fil-A Bowl concludes on Tuesday night. Both Texas A&M and Duke will be looking for season ending wins. An Aggie victory means the first 3 bowl winning streak in consecutive years in school history. A win by the Blue Devils will produce their first 11 win season ever and first bowl victory since 1961.
"We have accomplished tremendous milestones along this journey and it's been a magical journey," said Blue Devil Defensive End Kenny Anunike. "We are looking to cap it off with a win here against Texas A&M. I tell you, being the underdog, we've been underdogs my whole career since I've been here. That's nothing new. Has not changed. But what has changed, though, is the expectations. This team, it's something different. Going into every game, we expected to win. And that's the culture, the culture that Coach Cutcliffe grew since me and Dave since the whole coaching staff has come to this university to embark on; and that was to change this culture and just really make it a place that's just used to winning, just like our basketball team. Now going around campus, people are talking about, man, we are becoming a football school. To hear that, it's awesome. It's really just -- it blows my mind," explained Anunike.
Texas A&M is fifth in the country in scoring putting up 43 points per game, but the Aggies only managed a total of 31 points in their final two games.
With over a month off between games quarterback Johnny Manziel has had a chance to get some rest and heal his injuries. A healthy Manziel may help the Aggies get off to a fast start and get rolling early.
"It's going to be very important to get a lot of people involved early in the game, and focus on getting first downs and hopefully that will lead into touchdowns. But those first few drives of the game are very important to set the tone," said newly named A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital.
A year ago it seemed the Aggies scored early and often. Building big leads against opponents and rolling to victory. That could happen again tonight, but the Aggies will have to play well against the Blue Devils tonight in the Georgia Dome.
"I think the biggest thing about Duke is they have a lot of fire," said Aggie Quarterback Johnny Manziel. "They swarm to the ball and they play good as a unit. It's hard to kind of compare who they would be like in the SEC. But you look at what they did at the beginning of the Florida State game, they really slowed that high-powered offense down. I think they played hard more than anything and they played together as a unit,' concluded Manziel.
The Duke defense will keep a close eye on number two trying to limit his ability to make big plays. To do that the Blue Devils will try to collapse the pocket and make sure Manziel does not have a scramble lane.
"We know that Johnny Manziel, like you said, is a mobile quarterback and he likes to get out of the pocket, scramble, make plays, put on a show," said Anunike. "So we just have to make sure that we get in there and get some power rushes, keep the up field shoulder and just make sure he stays right there in that pocket and keep that lockdown coverage in the back end," added Anunike.
When the Aggie defense takes the field tonight they will face a challenge slowing down Duke. The Blue Devils are averaging 234 yards passing and 173 yards rushing per game.
"They have a very good offense," said A&M defensive back Deshazor Everett. "We have to stop both the run and the pass. They have some good receivers. We know they go to their number three receiver and their tight end, so we are going to have a good challenge on our hands with that," wrapped up Deshazor.
Texas A&M is a 12 1/2 point favorite in tonight's Chick-fil-A Bowl against Duke set to kickoff at 7pm on ESPN. The ACC holds a 12 to 11 game advantage in this bowl game that matches the Atlantic Coast Conference against the SEC.
Something to ponder - 25 of the 45 Chicki-fil-A Bowls have been decided by a touchdown or less. Do you think it will be close or a blowout?