Coach David Cutcliffe's Duke Blue Devils are one of the best stories in college football this season. After decades of ineptitude, Duke won the ACC's Coastal Division, played in the ACC Championship Game and earned a bowl bid for the second straight season.
The Dukies were also very kind to their financial backers, going 10-3 ATS this season.
Texas A&M's Aggies, meanwhile, came up a bit short of expectations this season. Now they face the possibility of playing their last game with Johnny Football taking snaps. Duke, looking for its first bowl victory in over 50 years, is a big underdog to Texas A&M on the Chick-fil-A Bowl odds menu.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl point spread: Texas A&M Aggies opened as 13-point favorites but the number was getting bet down; the total opened 69 but climbed to 75 by Dec. 22. (Line updates and matchup report details).
Odds Shark computer prediction: 42.0-36.7 Aggies
Why the Blue Devils can cover the Chick-Fil-A Bowl spread
Those in the know figured Coach Cutcliffe might be up to something down in Durham, but few figured Duke would win a division title this season. The Blue Devils got beat up by Florida State in the ACC Championship Game, but that was going to happen to anyone in the conference.
Duke actually lost its first two conference games this season, then won its next six, part of an eight-game winning streak overall, before the loss to the Seminoles.
The Blue Devils found some balance on offense this year, rushing for 174 yards per game and throwing for 234, while they did a decent job of playing “bend-don't-break” defense. Duke came close to winning a bowl last year, losing in heartbreaking fashion to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
Perhaps Duke can use that experience as motivation to snap its bowl-victory drought. After all, the Chick-Fil-A Bowl betting history is marked by ACC teams beating SEC teams (3-1 SU past four matches).
Why the Aggies can cover the Chick-Fil-A Bowl spread
After its magical season of last year A&M, with only 11 starters back, figured to have a tough time pulling off a repeat performance this season. In the end the Aggies lost four games, but to four pretty good teams in Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri.
Powered by Johnny Manziel, who's accounted for 41 touchdowns and leads the team in rushing, A&M ranks fourth in the nation in total offense, helping cover up for deficiencies on defense, although not totally. The Aggies won their only bowl so far under Coach Sumlin, beating Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl last year 41-13.
It made two straight after a long bowl losing skid. While A&M may not have measured up to what it accomplished last year, it's still very dangerous with Manziel running the show.
The ACC is 3-1 both SU and ATS against the SEC in the last four Chick-fil-A Bowls. Might that indicate the SEC is slightly overrated by the oddsmakers, while the ACC might be underrated? For this matchup a team that went 4-4 in the SEC is favored by 11 points over a team that went 6-2 in the ACC.
Duke has beaten expectations all season long, while A&M has not, going 5-7 ATS. If the Blue Devils can make their share of big plays on offense, and limit Manziel's big plays on defense, they'll have a chance not just to cover the spread, but win this game outright.
Take the points with underdog Duke on New Year's Eve at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
- ACC has won three of past four vs SEC schools
- Aggies won and covered two straight after long bowl losing skid
- Texas A&M finished the year on 2-6 ATS losing skid
- Duke was 10-3 ATS on the season