I had to do a bit of a double take when I saw the spread for this game: Johnny Manziel and the vaunted #5 Texas A&M Aggies (4-1), are less than a touchdown favorite (-6) at Ole Miss (3-2), a team that’s most impressive result is a 44-23 beatdown of Texas, which looks severely less impressive after seeing how much Texas has struggled so far this year. As a good friend of mine would often say. “this spread has trap written all over it,” and as I have often responded, “well I’m jumping right in.” Sometimes it’s come back to haunt me, but I can’t imagine this is one of those times. Let’s dive a bit deeper into this matchup.
Here’s a bit of a secret that you may not know: Texas A&M can put points on the board. The team is 4th in the nation averaging 49.2 points a game, but perhaps more impressive than that number is the fact that their lowest scoring output in a single game this year has been 42 points. Johnny Manziel leads one of the most potent passing attacks coming into this matchup, averaging 365 yards in the air a game, good for 6th in the nation.
Texas A&M lost their big matchup at home against Alabama 49-42 a few weeks ago, but outside of that, the Aggies have handled their business. Two weeks ago, Manziel and company had their biggest sweat of the year so far against Auburn, and the final score was 45-33. Outside of that win, their victories have come by a total of 21 points, 37 points, and 29 points respectfully. Bottom line, the Aggies are fully playing up to their top 5 ranking.
Headline: Ole Miss struggling coming into this game.
Now, let’s take a look at Ole Miss. The Running Rebels started off the season 3-0 before a huge test on the road against #1 Alabama. Well Ole Miss looked like they would have a shot at pulling off the upset, as they trailed just 9-0 at halftime, but if you want to win football games, it helps to score some points. They were never able to do that, ultimately getting shut out 25-0 in a game that wasn’t even as close as that score would indicate. Ole Miss followed that up with a disappointing 30-22 loss at Auburn last week, meaning that the Running Rebels come into this game on back-to-back losses.
The Rebel defense has been above average, ranking 55th in the nation, letting up 25.2 points a game. However, as we have already pointed out, the offense has struggled at times, registering 27 points a game, good enough for just 85th in the nation. In other words, Ole Miss averages 22 less points a game than Texas A&M, a stat that perfectly captures why I love the Aggies at -6 here.
Rebels nearly knocked off Aggies last year.
Ole Miss fans will draw inspiration for this upset off of last year’s matchup with Texas A&M. The teams were tied 17-17 at halftime, and Ole Miss actually carried a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter. They even extended that lead to 27-17 before Manziel led a comeback that saw the Aggies top the Rebels 30-27. It should be noted on this day, Manziel was a shell of the Quarterback that he would later become and current is, logging just 191 yards and one touchdown through the air. However, he had no problem carving Ole Miss up on the ground, scampering for 129 yards.
If these stats weren’t enough to convince you that A&M should win handily, don’t forget that the Aggies are coming off a bye. Last year, A&M’s first game against Lousiana Tech was postponed due to weather, and it was rescheduled for their lone mid-season bye week. As a result, the Aggies improbably never had a mid-season bye, playing on 12 straight saturdays. With this extra rest, I expect Texas A&M to jump out to an early lead, and rely on the defense to hold the Ole Miss offense down.
I was prepared to take the over on the points in this game, as I feel like there’s no way the Aggies put up less than 30, and will probably be in the 40’s by the end of the game. Then I saw that it was 74, which is definitely on the higher side, even in the college game. I’m having trouble seeing Ole Miss put up more than 30, so right now I’m leaning towards the under. Look for a final score of 42-21, as A&M moves to 5-1 on the season.