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Leeman Bennett is a former head coach of the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and is the current chairman of the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s Team Selection Committee. He writes a weekly team selection blog to give fans an inside look into the Chick-fil-A Bowl’s team scouting and selection process.
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Dec. 9: Breaking Down the Matchup

Once again the Chick-fil-A Bowl came out of Selection Sunday with one of the most compelling and interesting matchups of the bowl season – a game highlighted by a number of “firsts” and a very big “last.” 

When #24 Duke and #21 Texas A&M square off in the Georgia Dome on Dec. 31, it will be the first time either team has appeared in Atlanta’s bowl game. It will also be the first time the two programs have faced each other in a combined 220 seasons of football. 

Duke enters the game following its first-ever 10-win season and its first ACC Coastal Division championship. The Aggies will be playing in their first bowl game outside the states of Texas or Louisiana since 2006 and their first inside the traditional footprint of the Southeastern Conference. 

For the Chick-fil-A Bowl, this game will mark the last guaranteed ACC vs. SEC matchup before the Bowl enters the College Football Playoff next season. In the preceding 21 years, the ACC leads the rivalry series against the SEC 11 games to 10. This gives Duke a chance to put it away for the ACC or Texas A&M an opportunity to knot it up at 11 for the SEC. 

We don’t know which way it will go, but here is what we do know.We know we’re going to have a sold-out, electric atmosphere inside the Georgia Dome. 

We know we are going to have an incredible shootout-style battle between two potent offenses. We know it’s going to be seen by millions in an unopposed primetime slot New Year’s Eve on ESPN. We know we will see two of the nation’s top coaches try to out-scheme each other. And we know it’s going to be a lot of fun! 

That said, let’s take a deeper look into the two teams as we try to break down this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl. Here are the numbers: 

Duke

Texas A&M

Record     10-3 8-4
Conference Record   6-2 4-4
Division Record 4-2 3-3
BCS Ranking  24 21
AP Ranking 22  20 
Coaches Poll Ranking   21  21 
Computers Poll Ranking 25  21 
Harris Poll Ranking   24  21 
AP/Coaches Top 25 Record 2-1  0-4 
Strength of Schedule   62  29 
Total Offense   #68, 408.1 yds  #4, 538.2 yds 
Rushing Offense  #60, 173.7 yds  #44, 187.3 yds 
Passing Offense   #63, 234.4 yds  #7, 350.9 yds 
Pass Efficiency   #56  #5 
Scoring Offense  #49, 31.6 points  #6, 43.6 points 
3rd down Conversion %  #85, .378  #10, .507 
First Downs Offense #50  #8 
Net Punting   #41  #7 
Total Defense   #71, 408.5 yds  #105, 460.3 yds 
Rushing Defense  #74, 175.3 yds  #108, 221.3 yds 
Passing Defense #70, 233.2 yds allowed #79, 239 yds allowed
Scoring Defense   #47, 24.7 points  #88, 30.9 points 
Turnover Margins   #47, 0.2  T-#68, -0.1 
Individual Receiving Crowder: 1,197 total yds (92.08 ypg)  Evans: 1,322 total yds (110.17 ypg) 
Individual Passing Boone: 1,833 total yds (183.3 ypg) Manziel: 3,732 total yds (311 ypg) 
Individual Rushing   Duncan: 573 total yds (43.23 ypg)   Manziel: 686 total yds (57.17 ypg) 
Individual Offense   Boone: 2,020 total yds  Manziel: 4,418 total yds  

Now we need you to weigh in. Give us your arguments. Make your predictions. And tell us who will win this year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl in the first-ever game between the Duke Blue Devils and the Texas A&M Aggies. 

And right after you do that, make sure you download the FREE Chick-fil-A Bowl App. It’s the best App in the Bowl business and is a must-have companion to your Chick-fil-A Bowl experience. Check out the details

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