The conventional wisdom was that the Blue Devils would not even be able to keep the Chick-fil-A Bowl close as long as Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel wasn't already thinking about his big payday in the NFL. Instead, Texas A&M got everything it has come to expect out from Manziel, but the Blue Devils made a game of it anyway. The result was in doubt until the final minute of the game, when Duke quarterback Anthony Boone's pass was picked off to seal the 52-48 win for A&M.
Texas A&M struggled to sustain drives early, due largely to the fact that Manziel and his wide receivers never seemed to be on the same page. Aggies wideouts dropped several catchable balls and a missed connection on third down between Manziel and MIke Evans prompted Johnny Football to chase down his No. 1 target on the sideline and offer an impassioned criticism of his performance on the previous play.
While the Aggies' offensive struggles continued much of the first 30 minutes, Duke kept marching down the field, virtually unimpeded by the Texas A&M defense. The Blue Devils scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions and closed out the first half with a field goal that gave them a 38-17 lead heading into the locker room.
Things looked pretty bleak for the Aggies, but Duke's offense started making some mistakes in the second half (two interceptions and a missed field goal) and the A&M offense finally got clicking, producing a touchdown highlight that will be added to the Johnny Football canon.
Things kept rolling for the Aggies from there, as they racked up 35 second-half points that proved to be too much for Duke to handle. Texas A&M took the lead for the first time all night when Toney Hurd picked off Boone and took it 45 yards to the house. Duke got the ball back and threatening to score inside Aggie territory when Boone was, once again, picked off, this time by Nate Askew, and the Blue Devils' upset bid had run out of time.
Box Score Hero: Johnny Manziel was brilliant in what is expected to be his final performance as an amateur, completing 30 of 38 pass attempts for 382 yards and four touchdowns. He added another 73 yards and a score on the ground.
In a losing effort, Duke's Jamison Crowder was unbelievable, hauling in 12 catches for 163 yards and a touchdown while becoming the first ACC player to ever catch 100 passes in a season.
Rankings Ramifications: The Aggies and Blue Devils entered the game ranked No. 21 and No. 24, respectively, in the BCS standings. The loss will likely knock Duke out of the final Top 25.
But Did They Cover? Texas A&M entered the game as 14-point favorites. Their narrow four-point victory was not enough to cover.