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Meineke Car Care Bowl: Texas A&M vs. Northwestern Preview & Free Pick

Meineke Care Bowl: Texas A&M (6-6) vs Northwestern (6-6)

Texas A&M came into this season with high hopes, but second half blunders cost this team a chance at a special season. Mike Sherman was replaced by Kevin Sumlin as head coach of the Aggies.

Meineke Car Care Bowl:
Texas A&M (6-6) vs. Northwestern (6-6)
Date: December 31, 12:00 PM EST
Venue: Reliant Stadium, Houston
Betting Lines from BetOnline.com
Moneyline: Texas A&M (-370) Northwestern (+310)
Spread: Texas A&M -10
Over/Under: 66.5

Northwestern started poorly this year, and the team needed an upset win over Nebraska late in the year to become bowl eligible. The Aggies are big favorites here. Can Northwestern pull off an upset in what will essentially be a road game?

The Aggies led in the second half of five of their six losses this year. This was a team that simply could not finish the deal. Ryan Tannehill racked up 3,415 passing yards this year. He threw 28 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Cyrus Gray is the primary ball carrier for the Aggies since Christian Michael went down with season-ending injury. Gray averages 5.3 yards per carry. He also caught the ball 31 times out of the backfield this season. Ryan Swope emerged as the team’s top target on the outside. Swope had 11 touchdown receptions and 1,102 receiving yards. Texas A&M finished the regular season seventh in the nation in total offense. This is a very dangerous offense.

The Aggies defense was very good against the run and terrible against the pass this year. The front seven has had a solid year overall, but the secondary simply gives up far too many big plays. Overall, this defense certainly gave up points in bunches. Opponents scored 38 points or more five times this year against this unit. [soliloquy id=”82219″]

Dan Persa is a star quarterback for Northwestern, but unfortunately he hasn’t really been healthy all year. Persa is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation when healthy, but he has been limited this season. He completed an amazing 74% of his passes in the regular season. Kain Colter sees quite a bit of playing time at quarterback as well. Colter is actually the team’s leading rusher. Colter averages five yards per carry, and he has eight touchdowns on the year. Jeremy Ebert gives this offense a star receiver who has extremely reliable hands. Ebert caught 71 passes and 11 touchdowns this year. The Wildcats averaged 29.5 points per game this year.

Northwestern’s defense was inconsistent in 2011. The Wildcats looked much improved on this side of the ball at times this year, but at other times they were riddled by mediocre offenses. The front seven struggles to stop powerful running games. In addition, this front four doesn’t put much heat on the opposing quarterback.

Both offenses should have the upper hand in this one. Which defense can step up and make some big stops? The Aggies don’t have a strong bowl record of late, and I think double digits is a little too much in this one. Texas A&M is 0-5 ATS in their last 5 bowl games. Take the ten points with the Wildcats.

Free College Football Pick: Northwestern +10
Score Prediction: Texas A&M 38 Northwestern 34

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