A&M slotted for Chick-fil-A Bowl against ACC runner-up Duke
Published: Sunday, December 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, December 8, 2013 23:12
Texas A&M accepted an invitation to compete in the Chick-fil-A Bowl against ACC runner-up Duke, the University announced Sunday evening. The matchup, at 8 p.m. Dec. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, will serve as the initial meeting between A&M (8-4, 4-4 SEC) and Duke (10-3, 6-2 ACC), as well as both programs’ first visit to the postseason destination.
Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO, said the top-tier matchup was the ideal setup for the bowl as it will pit a Duke squad coming off an unprecedented successful season and a Texas A&M team with a national following and media presence.
“Getting a matchup like this is like getting to open your Christmas presents early,” Stokan said. “Pitting a 10-win Duke team, coming off its best season ever, against an SEC powerhouse brand like Texas A&M is going to create a very compelling shootout that we’ll get to show off in front of a sold-out crowd in the Georgia Dome New Year’s Eve.”
The Aggies enter the bowl game coming off two consecutive road losses, falling to LSU and Missouri to close the season. A&M’s four losses came to teams ranked No. 2, No. 3, No. 8 and No. 16 in the final BCS standings, a factor Chick-fil-A Bowl representative Matt Garvey said was key in selecting the Aggies.
A&M’s offensive prowess was noted as an element in the decision, Garvey said, as sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel led the unit to top-10 statistical rankings in passing yards, scoring offense, pass efficiency and total offense. The attraction of A&M’s television ranking, which stood second only to defending national champion Alabama, was also pointed out as a significant component in the Aggies’ selection.
The bowl game will mark the career finale for 13 seniors on the A&M roster, including 10 starters. Senior defensive back Toney Hurd Jr. said he anticipates an emotional matchup on the A&M sideline, and expects a strong effort around the team.
“[Duke] will present a great challenge and we will have to prepare well and execute,” Hurd said. “I’m looking forward to going to battle with these guys who are like brothers to me. As seniors, we have to set the tempo in practice and prepare to the best of our abilities. It is a blessing to have a chance to play one more game in an Aggie uniform.”
Duke finished its season winning eight of its final nine games, most recently falling to national title-bound Florida State 45-7 in the ACC Championship. Duke has additionally reached many “firsts” on the year, including a 10-win season, a Coastal Division title and appearances in back-to-back bowl games.
Head coach David Cutcliffe won the Walter Camp Coach of the Year award and hopes to help the program capture its first 11-win season in school history with a victory over A&M in Atlanta.
“We’re obviously thrilled to be selected to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, which continues to have a great partnership with the Atlantic Coast Conference, and to have the opportunity to play against a terrific Texas A&M squad,” Cutcliffe said. “The Chick-fil-A Bowl has long been considered one of the top-tier and most prestigious bowls across the college football landscape and Atlanta is without a doubt one of the college football’s premier cities. I’m extremely excited for our seniors, who will finish their careers as the first group in Duke history to play in back-to-back bowl games.”