Texas A&M vs. Missouri: Biggest Storylines to Watch in SEC Showdown

Mike Moraitis@@michaelmoraitisAnalyst INovember 28, 2013

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 12:  Head coach Gary Pinkel of the Missouri Tigers looks on during the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The No. 21 Texas A&M Aggies will hit the road to take on the No. 5 Missouri Tigers with a ton riding on this game for both teams.

For the Aggies, there isn't much to play for as the end of the season nears. Three losses have cancelled them out from any BCS National Championship game hopes they had earlier in the season and now all that's left is personal accomplishments.

On the flip side, Missouri has everything to play for, whether it be an SEC title or a spot in the national title game in January. In order to secure those two things, the Tigers must get past the Aggies first, which proved to be a tall order last season after Manziel and company manhandled their fellow SEC foe.

Here are the most interesting storylines going into this Week 14 showdown.


Johnny Football's Repeat Heisman Quest

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M University Aggies poses with the Heisman Memorial Trophy after being named the 78th Heisman Memorial Trophy Award winner at a press conference after at the Marriott Marquis on Decemb
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

There was little doubt Manziel would be the first freshman to win the Heisman last season and the sophomore signal-caller now has an opportunity to win his second straight in 2013-14.

Manziel's 3,537 yards passing ranks him No. 6 in the nation and he accomplished that in the toughest conference in college football. Manziel is also tied for No. 3 with 32 touchdown passes and his 174.9 quarterback rating ranks him fourth.

On top of his ability to throw the football, Manziel can also run it as evidenced by his leading the Aggies with 665 yards on the ground with eight touchdowns, good enough for second among runners.

In total, Manziel has compiled 4,202 of the team's 6,079 total yards and 40 of Texas A&M's 64 scores through both the pass and run during the 2013-14 campaign.

As mentioned above, Manziel has done all this against some of the toughest teams in the country with little to no defense to back him up. Against Alabama, Manziel gained over 550 yards of total offense while finding the end zone five times, and against Auburn Manziel barely crossed the 500-yard mark.

Sep 14, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban talks with Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) after the game at Kyle Field. Alabama Crimson Tide beat the Texas A&M Aggies 49-42. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emm
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

In both of those instances Manziel's squad scored over 40 points and still lost, although it's safe to say Johnny Football didn't come close to being blamed for either failed effort for the Aggies.

All that's left for Manziel to do in his bid to become a repeat Heisman winner is to knock off or at least have another huge game against a top-flight team. No. 5 Missouri is next and final on the docket for the regular season and if his previous games against great teams is any indication, Manziel will once again shine for Texas A&M.


Missouri's BCS Championship Game Hopes

OXFORD, MS - NOVEMBER 23:  James Franklin #1 of the Missouri Tigers drops back to pass against the Ole Miss Rebels during a game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Oxford, Mississippi.  Missouri won the game 24-10.  (Photo by Stacy Revere
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Who was talking about Missouri being a BCS title contender at the start of the season? If you raised your hand and have a Missouri Tigers hat or jersey on, put it down. You don't count.

For the rest of us it comes as a bit of a surprise to see how well Missouri has done this season. The Tigers have beaten three ranked teams, including Georgia, Florida and Ole Miss, while their only loss came at the hands of the now No. 10-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.

That's a pretty impressive resume for the Tigers and one that could earn them a shot at the BCS championship should they finish the job.

That job starts with beating the Aggies on Saturday and if they can do so in convincing fashion while slowing down Johnny Football, all that's left will be for Missouri to win the SEC championship game, which will be against either Auburn or Alabama.

If it's Auburn, the game will carry serious weight as Auburn would have to beat the Crimson Tide in order to make it to the SEC championship game. If it happens to be 'Bama that Missouri must meet in the big game, the Tigers will have a golden opportunity to score major points in the BCS with a win over the only No. 1 team this season and the two-time reigning champs.

Wins against Texas A&M and Alabama/Auburn could certainly secure a spot in the national title game for Missouri, but a loss by either Ohio St. or Florida St. in the upcoming weeks would no doubt help.


Payback's a...

COLLEGE STATION, TX - NOVEMBER 24:  Texas A&M Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel #2 rushes for a gain during their game against the Missouri Tigers at Kyle Field on November 24, 2012 in College Station, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Revenge will be on the minds of the Tigers on Saturday after the Aggies crushed them in the regular-season final last year by the score of 59-29.

Manziel had another one of his dominant performances after throwing for 372 yards and three touchdowns to only one pick, and he also ran the ball 12 times for 67 yards and two scores.

But that was against a very different Missouri team that wasn't nearly as good as this year's version. The Tigers bring a top-flight rushing attack that will cream Texas A&M's horrid defense and if there is a defensive unit good enough to stop Johnny Football, it's Missouri's.

The last thing the Tigers want is a repeat of last season's game. A loss like that would surely end Missouri's BCS title hopes and would be a depressing finish to an otherwise outstanding season.

Aside from a lesser bowl bid and possibly Manziel's Heisman chances, Texas A&M doesn't have much to play for other than to be a spoiler in Missouri's way.

Despite the Aggies' three-loss season, this is an incredibly dangerous game for the Tigers with so much on the line and if Missouri thinks Texas A&M will come out with any less fire than it did last season, the Tigers will find out the hard way that they are sorely mistaken.


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