Does Texas A&M have a chance to beat Missouri on Saturday?
Imagine that question being asked this offseason. The Aggies were coming off Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy win and an 11-win season. The Tigers were coming off a train wreck of a 5-7 season. Suddenly, though, Missouri is the favorite, by anywhere from 3 to 4.5 points.
It’s time for me to acknowledge that the No. 5 Tigers (10-1) are for real. It’s been a hard concept for me to wrap my arms around after what I saw last year (and the performance I saw live by Missouri this year wasn’t super impressive), but Missouri is No. 2 in the SEC in scoring with 39.7 points per game and, even more impressively, No. 2 in the conference in scoring defense with 19.3 points allowed per game.
On the other hand, I’m not ready to bury No. 19 Texas A&M (8-3) after a bad offensive game against LSU. LSU has had Manziel’s number for two years now, and nobody else has been able to duplicate that success. Manziel completed just 39 percent of his passes and ran for 54 yards against the Tigers, but he has thrown for at least 300 yards against every other SEC team. And let’s not forget this is the guy who threw for 464 and rushed for 98 against an Alabama defense that is ranked No. 3 in the nation in yards allowed and No. 1 in points allowed (9.3).
Last year, Manziel threw for 372 yards and rushed for 67 in a 59-29 win over Missouri, and I’m not ready to shovel dirt on Johnny Football after one stinker. Texas A&M 40, Missouri 39.
That result, of course, would put South Carolina in the SEC title game. Happy Thanksgiving.