X factor: Duke football vs. Texas A&M

The 10-3 Blue Devils will take on Texas A&M at 8 p.m. in the Chick-fil-A Bowl at the Georgia Dome. Every week throughout the football season, we’ll break down a player on each team who could be the difference-maker in the upcoming contest.

Duke linebacker Kelby Brown

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The Blue Devils' top priority in the Chick-fil-A Bowl will be keeping Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel from beating them with explosive plays. Duke's defense will attempt to put pressure on the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, but keeping Manziel contained will require much more than a good rush from the Blue Devil defensive line. Brown has been responsible for spying mobile quarterbacks throughout the 2013 season, and will end the campaign with his toughest test against Manziel. Brown's ability to make plays near the line of scrimmage and keep Manziel from turning broken plays into explosive ones could be the difference between Duke winning and losing the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Texas A&M running back Ben Malena

Manziel is Texas A&M's top playmaker, but the Aggies also boast an underrated and efficient rushing attack. Malena leads Texas A&M's three-headed monster at running back—a group that has combined to score 24 rushing touchdowns during the 2013 season. All eyes will be trained on Manziel and top target Mike Evans, but if Malena is able to burn the Blue Devils in the ground game, the Aggies could put up enough points to make the Chick-fil-A Bowl—which starts at 8 p.m.—extend all the way into 2014.


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