Top stats to know: Duke vs Texas A&M

Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Johnny Manziel will look to end his 2013 on a winning note.The Chick-Fil-A bowl game has significant meaning both to Duke and Texas A&M. The Blue Devils are going for their first bowl win in a long time. The Aggies may be playing their last game with Johnny Manziel at quarterback.

What are the top stats to know for this contest?

1-- Texas A&M faded late in the season against tough competition, losing back-to-back games against No. 22 LSU and No. 5 Missouri. The Aggies had not previously lost back-to-back games in the Kevin Sumlin/Manziel era and now will look to avoid a three-game losing streak. Their last such losing streak came in 2011 under head coach Mike Sherman.

The Aggies have no wins against ranked opponents this season; they’re 0-4 vs ranked opponents and 8-0 vs unranked opponents.

Last year Texas A&M went 4-2 vs ranked opponents including a bowl win against BCS No. 11 Oklahoma.

2-- Duke is playing in a bowl game in consecutive seasons for the first time in school history.

But it’s been a long time since Duke had a bowl win. The last Duke bowl victory came in the 1960 season when the Blue Devils edged Arkansas 7-6 in the Cotton Bowl.

Since then there have been three bowl trips, all losses, under three different head coaches.

Manziel Passing Improvements
From Last Season

3-- There are several areas where Manziel made statistical improvements from his Heisman-winning season last year including in completion percentage and touchdown passes.

He’s also throwing for more yards despite fewer pass attempts per game.

Manziel has cut back on his rushing. He averaged 108.5 yards per game and 7.0 yards per rush in 2012, but only 57.2 and 5.2 in 2013.

4-- Duke has a pair of statistical strengths of note. The team is plus-76 in scoring margin in the fourth quarter, trailing only Michigan State (plus-78) for best in the FBS.

But the Blue Devils cooled off in that category of late: Duke is even in fourth-quarter scoring in its last three games (against Wake Forest, North Carolina and Florida State).

The Blue Devils offense has excelled in goal-to-go situations this season. They’re recording touchdowns on 96 percent of their goal-to-go drives, the second-highest rate in the FBS this season behind only Georgia Tech (97 percent).

In fact, Duke had a 100 percent conversion rate until its last regular season game, when it settled for a field goal on a goal-to-go drive against North Carolina. Overall Duke has had 25 goal-to-go drives on the season and ended up with a touchdown in 24 of them. By comparison, Texas A&M is 29-for-36 (80.6 percent).

5-- Both defenses have had their issues, Texas A&M’s being the one that has struggled more.

The Aggies rank near the bottom of the SEC in most categories. The defense is allowing 6.2 yards per play which ranks them 104th in the FBS. That’s behind teams like Hawaii (1-11 record), Southern Miss (1-11) and Western Michigan (1-11). The only SEC team worse in the category is Kentucky.

Duke’s defense has given up lots of yards this season – 408.5 yards per game, ranking 12th out of 14 ACC teams – but has limited how often opponents turn them into points. Duke is allowing only 1.64 points per drive, fourth in the ACC.

Opponents are only scoring on 27 percent of their drives against Duke, also fourth in the ACC. The three ACC teams that are ahead of Duke in each category are conference powers: Florida State, Virginia Tech and Clemson.