coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 11/18/2013 04:30 PM in NCAA Football

Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers: Preview and Pick

Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers: Preview and Pick

The Texas A&M Aggies are getting some attention at every place they play, thanks to the high profile play of quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Heisman trophy winner has a larger than life personality on and off the field, but his on the field play will be tested against the LSU Tigers. The Tigers are off a loss against the Alabama Crimson Tide, but will have enough talent to make this a very interesting game.

Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers Odds

The college football odds for this game opened with the Tigers listed as (-4) point favorites. Although the Tigers are a very good team and have a huge home field advantage, the public is heavily backing the road team. The latest sports betting consensus site shows that over 70 percent of the early betting tickets are backing Manziel and the Aggies.

The Tigers are a good team and will have to be at their best for this game. Rather than examining a blowout win over Mississippi State, a dominant yet slightly sloppy outing against No. 6 Auburn, and offensive explosions against UAB and Kent State, let's study the Tigers' losses. First things first—the Alabama loss was a result of the Crimson Tide being one of the greatest dynasties in college football. Alabama is the best, and the Tide proved it in the second half by pulling away, defeating the Tigers 38-17. LSU has to regroup and wait until next season to challenge for the SEC West title. However, they can still get a big win here to build off of for next season.

Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers Trends

The latest college football betting trends reveal that the Aggies have some interesting betting trends in their favor. The Aggies are 10-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 13 games after accumulating more than 450 total yards in their previous game, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game and 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games after allowing more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game. The Tigers are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games after scoring less than 20 points in their previous game and 2-5-1 ATS in their last 8 games overall.

Texas A&M Aggies at LSU Tigers Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/19/2013 01:37 PM

Heisman Trophy winner and Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel is coming to Baton Rouge, and the LSU football team can’t help but notice.

The only freshman Heisman winner ever is on pace to compete for a second straight, completing 73 percent of his passes this season and averaging 331 yards per game through the air.

LSU junior wide receiver Jarvis Landry said it can be difficult to concentrate on defenses while watching film when Manziel takes the spotlight.

“He’s the quarterback, so fortunately for them and unfortunately for the defenses, he touches the ball every play,” Landry said. “He’s always a threat. He’s very fast and agile, and he can make any throw on the field.”

The LSU defense held Manziel to 276 passing yards and 27 yards rushing and forced three interceptions in the Tigers’ 24-19 victory against the Aggies last season.

“I’m pretty sure the coaches are looking at that, but then again, it is a new year,” said sophomore cornerback Jalen Mills. “Those guys added new plays to the playbook just like we did. We just have to adapt.”

- PLAYERS approach LSU history

With junior wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark against Alabama last week and Landry just 28 yards shy, the tandem is poised to become the first pair of Tigers to hit the mark in the same season.

Landry said the two set the milestone as a goal prior to the season and that being on the verge of achieving it feels surreal.

“[My numbers] probably wouldn’t be the same [without Landry],” Beckham said. “We complement each other so much that, even being double teamed a lot this year, you just can’t do it.”

Beckham also has his eyes set on breaking former Kentucky wide receiver Randall Cobb’s Southeastern Conference single-season record for all-purpose yards. With two regular season games remaining, he needs 307 yards to break the record.

“It would be a huge accomplishment,” Beckham said. “It’s definitely a goal that’s attainable and I would love to achieve it.”

Beckham was announced Monday as one of 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award presented annually to college football’s most outstanding wide receiver.

LSU’s 31-17 loss to Alabama knocked the Tigers out of contention for a BCS bowl bid, but sophomore running back Jeremy Hill said he and his teammates have had no lack of motivation moving forward.

A 10-win season is still attainable, and that would be a nice consolation prize, especially considering the close nature of two of LSU’s losses, Hill said.

“We set pretty lofty goals at this program, so if you don’t meet them, wherever you fall, its normally a pretty good season,” Hill said. “Every guy still comes in this building ready to work, and I think that’s what we’ll need to win these last three games.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/19/2013 01:38 PM

For the second time in three weeks, LSU coach Les Miles approached the podium for his weekly “Lunch with Les” press conference following a bye week.

Miles opened with a tribute to the late Joe Dean, the LSU Athletic Director from 1987 to 2001, who died Sunday at age 83.

“I think the path that we’re on here at the Athletic Department is based on his vision and what he saw a major college athletics department consist of,” Miles said. “Everybody knows his famous line, calling basketball games ‘string music.’ We want to say thanks and remember him.”

His focus quickly shifted to the next opponent entering Tiger Stadium. No. 10 Texas A&M brings a potent offense led by reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel.

The Aggies are currently ranked No. 3 in the nation in total offense, averaging 578 yards per game. Saturday’s contest should prove to be another challenge for a young Tigers’ defense that has struggled against the likes of Georgia, Ole Miss and Alabama this season. All three of these offenses rank lower than Texas A&M in total offense.

Miles said he is looking forward to the difficult task ahead, and he feels his defense can live up to it.

“I want the defense to stop them,” Miles said. “I like my defense, and I suspect they’ll play best in this game. It’s a much different environment [in Tiger Stadium] and a place where the home team generally does pretty good.”

A year ago, the LSU defense shut down Manziel more effectively than any other opponent he faced last season, forcing five Aggie turnovers en route to a 24-19 victory at Kyle Field.

Miles said he intends to use a similar game plan on defense Saturday, and it will require his squad to be physically prepared for a fast-paced opposing offense.

“You’re going to have to be in shape, and you’re going to have to get yourself off the field defensively,” Miles said. “We are going to play at least two-deep, and in some spots even play three-deep to keep the rotation fresh.”

Miles lauded Manziel’s ability as a dual-threat quarterback. The sophomore has thrown for 3,313 yards and 31 touchdowns, completing 73 percent of his passes. He has also rushed 110 times for 611 yards and eight touchdowns through 10 games.

“If there’s a better player in college football, I’d like to know who he is,” Miles said. “He’s a very, very talented guy, and he’s not by himself. [He is] a guy that has extremely quality hands and the speed and ability to get open. He’s going to be a great challenge for us, and I think our guys are looking forward to it.”

Offensively, the Tigers will try to keep pace with senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger under center.

Mettenberger suffered a contusion in his ankle during the Alabama game, but Miles said his quarterback practiced and will be ready to play this weekend.

Miles said he feels the Tigers’ offense can go blow-for-blow with the Aggies’ attack.

“What we’re looking to do certainly is maintain the ball and drive the length of the field,” Miles said. “You have to score. We’re looking forward to that, and we think we can operate our offense in such a manner that will give them an equal challenge. I think it will be an interesting matchup.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/20/2013 08:08 PM

Having recently recorded the 700th win in program history, the ninth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies hit the road to tangle with the 18th-ranked LSU Tigers in a SEC Western Division matchup.

It's the first meeting between the two schools in Baton Rouge since 1994, and LSU owns a 28-20-3 advantage in the all-time series. Last year, the Tigers beat the Aggies in College Station, 24-19, in the first meeting between the two as conference foes.

Both teams are coming off byes, with Texas A&M's last outing resulting in a wild 51-41 victory over visiting Mississippi State. It was the Aggies' third straight win following their second conference loss of the season vs. Auburn (45-41) on Oct. 19. It also concluded what had been a four-game homestand, as the team will play its final two regular season bouts on the road, both against ranked opponents (LSU and Missouri).

LSU took a break in the action last weekend on the heels of a 38-17 loss at top-ranked Alabama on Nov. 9. It was the Tigers' second setback in the last three games, and it dropped them to an even 3-3 in SEC play. LSU closes out the regular season with a pair of home games (Texas A&M and Arkansas).

While neither club can reach the SEC Championship Game, dramatically improving their postseason destination is a distinct possibility, particularly for the Aggies who sit 12th in this week's BCS rankings.

Under the direction of reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the Aggies lead the SEC and rank third nationally in total offense (578.0 ypg), while checking in at the No. 5 position in scoring (49.2 ppg). Manziel has been his usual dominant self in completing 73 percent of his passes for 3,313 yards, 31 TDs and 11 interceptions. He also spearheads the team's rushing attack with 611 yards and eight scores, while Ben Malena has found the end zone nine times on only 98 carries. Mike Evans (57 rec., 1,263 yards, 12 TDs) is one of the nation's top big-play receivers, as evidenced by the fact that he only has two more catches than teammate Malcome Kennedy (55 rec., 606 yards, seven TDs), but more than twice the number of yards and five additional scores.

Texas A&M's defensive effort, or lack thereof, is the primary reason the team has stumbled in the games it has, as foes are averaging 30.9 ppg, which ranks the unit 12th in the 14-team conference, and 454.4 ypg, which has it dead last. The Aggies are being beaten for more than 210 ypg on the ground, and nearly 244 ypg through the air, and a lack of impact plays (eight forced fumbles, only five recovered) has compounded the issue. Howard Matthews has 73 tackles to his credit, and he also leads the club with three picks. No one has more than three sacks, the team logging a total of 17 QB takedowns on the year.

Manziel spoke after the Mississippi State win about whether or not he gave any thought to the fact that it may have been his last game in front of the A&M faithful.

"Not one bit. I'm just focusing on getting us to a BCS berth, in the best bowl game we can get to. That's my only focus right now."

LSU's offense hasn't been quite as potent as Texas A&M's, but the Tigers still manage to generate their share of excitement, particularly with regard to the pass (275.6 ypg, fourth in the SEC). As a result, LSU ranks fifth in the conference and 20th in the country with a scoring average of 37.9 ppg. While not on the same level as Manziel, Zach Mettenberger has had a solid season in hitting 65.7 percent of his passes for 2,733 yards, 20 TDs and seven interceptions. His favorite targets are talented receivers Jarvis Landry (63 rec., 972 yards, eight TDs) and Odell Beckham, Jr. (51 rec., 1,051 yards, eight TDs). Jeremy Hill (141 carries, 964 yards, 13 TDs) handles the bulk of the work out the backfield, and he needs just 36 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. LSU leads the nation in third-down conversion percentage (.576), which is also the highest percentage in school history.

Beckham, Jr., along with A&M's Evans, is one of the 10 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, and he is just 31 yards shy of setting a new single-season school record for all-purpose yards, currently held by Domanick Davis (2,120 in 2002). He currently ranks second nationally in all-purpose yards with 209.0 per game, and he is close to the SEC's single-season record, needing only 307 yards in the next two games to surpass Kentucky's Randall Cobb (2,396 yards, 2010).

While not as dominant as in recent years, the LSU defense has done enough most weeks to keep the team competitive. Opponents are scoring just 23.5 ppg behind typical outputs of 152.9 ypg rushing and 200.8 ypg passing. The unit has bent a bit more against the better teams it has faced this season, as it allowed 27 points to TCU, 44 to Georgia, 27 to Ole Miss and 38 to Alabama. The Tigers typically start a game strong, yielding a total of 45 points in the first quarter (4.5 ppg). Lamin Barrow paces the team with 73 tackles, but like their counterpart in this contest, the Tigers haven't made a ton of big plays on defense (12 takeaways).

Mettenberger was asked after the Alabama game whether or not he felt LSU was on the same level with the two-time defending national champs.

"I believe so. You could look at the score and think one thing, but if you watched the game you would know that if we didn't turn the ball over and made some smarter decisions in the third and fourth quarters, it would be a ball game."

He continued, "We weren't going to back down from Alabama. We had a good game plan going, but we just weren't able to execute it."

Execution is the key, and LSU has done an exceptional job of bouncing back after a loss under head coach Les Miles (22-1). Unfortunately for the Tigers, the Aggies still have a lot to play for (BCS berth). Expect Manziel to go off in what would could very well be one of his final games on the college stage.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/20/2013 08:09 PM

The nation will be expecting a lot of offensive fireworks Saturday when No. 19 LSU hosts No. 10 Texas A&M at Tiger Stadium at 2:30 p.m. on CBS.

Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel is No. 3 in the nation in passing efficiency at 186.9 on 230-of-315 passing for 3,313 yards and 31 touchdowns, while Tigers quarterback Zach Mettenberger is No. 5 in the nation in efficiency at 176.6 on 167-of-254 passing for 2,733 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Both defenses, meanwhile, have had issues. A&M is 105th in the nation in total yards allowed a game at 454.4. LSU, which has been in the top two in this category in recent years, is No. 24 with 353 yards allowed a game.

The Aggies are scoring 49.2 points a game, while the Tigers are allowing only 23.5 a game, but they have given up 33 a game in four of their last five SEC games. LSU is scoring 38 a game, while A&M is allowing 31 a game.

"Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that style of game," LSU coach Les Miles said at his press luncheon Monday. "I want the defense to stop them.

"Certainly, we recognize the challege that an offense like A&M brings. And it would also then require us at times to match. But I've got to be honest with you. I like my defense. I suspect they'll play best in this game. I think that it will be a challenge to A&M, and I think being in Tiger Stadium will be a challenge to A&M. It's a much different environment, and a place where the home team generally does pretty good."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/21/2013 10:26 AM

If Les Miles is worried about how his embattled defense will hold up against Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M's relentless, up-tempo offense, he isn't showing it.

The ninth-ranked Aggies' visit to Death Valley on Saturday will feature two of the top quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference, as well as some of college football's best receivers and running backs - seemingly all the needed ingredients of a high-scoring affair.

LSU's coach, however, said he is ''not looking forward to that style of game.''

''I want the defense to stop them,'' Miles said. ''Certainly we recognize the challenge that an offense like A&M will bring. ... I like my defense. I suspect they'll play best in this game. I think they'll be a challenge to A&M and I think being in Tiger Stadium will be a challenge to A&M. It's a much different environment and a place where the home team generally does pretty good.''

No. 18 LSU (7-3, 3-3) has opened as a four-point favorite and has been good at home, winning all five contests this season.

Yet its defense has been inconsistent and shaky at times. In LSU's last game - a 38-17 loss at Alabama two weekends ago - the Tigers' defense looked strong in the first half before wilting in the second, when the No. 1 Crimson Tide put together three unanswered touchdown drives, turning a tense 17-all tie into a laugher.

Now LSU must contend with Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, whose talent, according to Miles, is unsurpassed in college football.

Manziel has accounted for 300-plus total yards in 19 straight starts. He racked up 500 total yards against an Alabama defense that leads the SEC with 272.8 yards allowed per game.

Texas A&M's 578 yards per game and scoring average of 49.2 easily lead the SEC. Auburn ranks second with 499.9 yards per game and Missouri is second in scoring with 41.3 points per game.

''It's a great challenge,'' Miles said. ''It'll be a great matchup. I think our defense is really looking forward to it. These Tigers look forward to a challenge and this is really going to be one. I think our guys will play well. I think we have a nice scheme and a variety of ways to pressure, disguise coverage, get in the backfield.''

Miles said his defense will need to be good at getting off the field on third down to avoid wearing down against A&M's up-tempo offense. The coach added that LSU plans to rotate at least two players at every defensive position, and as many as three players at some spots, to stay fresh.

LSU cornerback Jalen Mills said the Tigers defense is bracing for a test of stamina.

''It is a day game. It's going to be hot. If somebody catches a cramp or somebody may be gassed and may need to sit out for a play or two, we do have the depth for it,'' Mills said. ''Your name could be called at any time during that game, so you have to be ready. No sitting on the sidelines.''

LSU, which had a bye last week, also has been using explosive receiver and kick returner Odell Beckham Jr. as the scout team quarterback, whose job is to mimic the opposing team's starter in practice against the first-team defense.

''It was fun pretending to be Johnny this week and running around, just trying to make plays, trying to give my defense the best look possible,'' said Beckham, who played some quarterback out of the ''wildcat'' formation in high school.

LSU is also hoping to control the football, which will put a premium on its ability to run as much as it may like the passing chemistry quarterback Zach Mettenberger has had with top receivers Beckham and Jarvis Landry.

''We know what kind of offense they have over there and the recipe for success against those guys is running the football successfully,'' LSU running back Jeremy Hill said, noting that LSU's ability to run was a key factor in the Tigers' triumph at Texas A&M last season.

''We want to get 35 minutes or more in time of possession, just keeping (Manziel) off the field as much as possible and helping our defense, keeping those guys fresh,'' Hill said. ''In the Alabama game, they were out there for a lot of plays and we were on the sideline for most of the second half and that hurt our defense. ... They got tired out there.''

A&M (8-2, 4-2) has scored more than 50 points in winning its past three games, and another big offensive showing could result in its first victory in three meetings with LSU since moving to the SEC. Neither of the past two, though, was played at Baton Rouge.

''I want nothing more than to win these next two games and to get into a good bowl game and go 10-2 in another regular season,'' Manziel said. ''I can't even put into words how bad I want that for seniors on this team and for this team in general.''

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/22/2013 10:03 AM

The last time LSU and Texas A&M played in Tiger Stadium, the game wasn’t televised.

Granted, the Aggies were on NCAA probation in 1994, which included a TV ban. All of the summer chat about Johnny Manziel’s signature aside, that was never an option this time.

The spotlight is on, as the longtime rivalry returns to Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon when the No. 9 Aggies and No. 18 Tigers tussle for bragging rights and bowl positioning.

Despite both teams suffering unexpected October setbacks, the dormant rivalry’s return to Baton Rouge and the national rankings still make for a notable November showdown.

“It’s a big game — the opportunity to play on national television,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “Again, this is the kind of game that you come to LSU to play in. You look forward to playing nationally-ranked teams and the opportunity to play best in front of your friends and family in Tiger Stadium. Can’t wait.”

The spotlight will burn brighter on LSU’s defense, a much-maligned unit tasked with doing the near impossible: slowing Johnny Manziel.

Something has to give here. Either A&M drops a game away from Kyle Field for the first time with Manziel under center, or LSU loses just its second home game in four years.

Though the Tigers have been permeable on defense, its numbers aren’t atrocious. The defense is fourth in the Southeastern Conference in passing defense and total defense.

They can thank the Tiger Stadium slate for that. LSU has allowed just 283.8 yards and 14.6 points per game in five home games.

But those stats were compiled against four teams with a combined losing record and a 6-5 Football Championship Subdivision Furman squad.

That’s a far cry from an A&M team that is the runaway SEC leader in total and scoring offense.

“We know what we’re getting ourself into,” said junior defensive end Jermauria Rasco. “It’s the most athletic QB and offense we’ve probably played all year, maybe since I’ve been here. All eyes will be on us, because we have to stop it.”

Stopping it is easier said than done, as only last year’s iterations of LSU and Florida held the 2012 Heisman winner in check. He’s arguably been better this season.

Miles said LSU may rotate more players in on defense to alleviate the expected strain Manziel and A&M’s up-tempo offense will exert.

“Well, you’re going to have to be in shape,” Miles said. “They’ll come up and tempo you, and then obviously get snap after snap. You’re going to have to get yourself off the field defensively with subs and on third down.”

LSU used its star defensive players last year to hold Manziel to 27 rushing yards, as ends Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo kept the elusive Aggie from escaping the pocket.

That game was also an 11:21 a.m. kickoff in College Station. The projected star talent on the LSU defense hasn’t produced in 2013, but it’ll get the star treatment this year with a national CBS audience for A&M.

“Guys like Mingo and Montgomery did an awesome job last year, but it’s on us now,” said freshman defensive back Dwayne Thomas. “There’s nowhere to hide when you’re playing an offense like theirs.”

Junior defensive tackle Anthony Johnson said Manziel looks like he’s playing “backyard football out there.”

If Johnson and the Tiger defense can’t replicate last year’s masterful performance against A&M, they might wish this backyard brawl wasn’t televised.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
11/22/2013 10:04 AM

Averaging 37.9 points per game, 10.7 yards per reception and 4.9 yards per carry, the LSU football team’s offense has been extremely efficient compared to recent years.

Perhaps a little too efficient.

Despite outscoring its opponents 379-236 and outgaining them by more than 1,000 yards this season, LSU has lost the time-of-possession battle in seven of its 10 contests this season and currently ranks 12th in the Southeastern Conference with an average of 28:37.

There has been little correlation between success on the clock and LSU’s success so far this season.

Even when LSU dominates offensively, it struggles to keep its defense off the field, as it possessed the ball for less than 26 minutes in a 45-13 victory against Kent State and less than 25 minutes against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Furman.

In fact, two of the Tigers’ three losses this season came in games where they had the clock advantage.

LSU coach Les Miles said it is less about how long you have the ball and more about what you do with it that matters.

“What we’re looking to do certainly is maintain the ball and drive the length of the field, but you have to get seven points, too,” Miles said. “It’s not like you can just go get first downs. You have to score.”

Still, there is little doubt the difficulty of a game increases the longer a defense stays on the field.

“During the Alabama game, [the defense was] out there for a lot of plays,” said LSU sophomore running back Jeremy Hill. “We were on the sideline for most of the second half. That hurt our defense and those guys got tired out there.”

The Tigers will line up against a team who has experienced similar problems this season when No. 9 Texas A&M comes to town Saturday.

Despite leading the SEC in total offense, the Aggies are last in the league with an average time of possession of 27:26.

The two teams shared the ball virtually equal time in LSU’s 24-19 victory last season, but senior linebacker Lamin Barrow said LSU wants to try to slow the Aggies down this weekend.

“I remember last year, I think we were on the field for 100 snaps,” Barrow said. “I think we’re going to try to reduce those snaps and get off the field a little bit more.”

Hill said the Tigers plan on taking advantage of Texas A&M’s clock problems in hopes of keeping Heisman Trophy winner and Aggie sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel at bay.

“We want to get 35-minutes or more in time of possession and keep [Manziel] off the field as much as possible to help our defense,” Hill said. “You have to keep them off the field, you have to keep your offense on the field. I think that’s the best way to beat Texas A&M.”