Staff prediction, matchups to watch

Texas A&M 48, Louisiana Tech 27

Louisiana Tech is a good team, but if the Bulldogs can't get stops, it's going to be a long night. The Bulldogs rank 119th in the country in total defense in passing defense and 106th in scoring defense. With Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's playmaking ability, the emergence of Ben Malena and the running game and the plethora of receiving weapons the Aggies have to choose from led by Mike Evans and Ryan Swope (not to mention an elite offensive line), expect the Aggies to pile up the points. And the Bulldogs haven't played a team as talented as the Aggies are on both sides of the ball. Louisiana Tech quarterback Colby Cameron hasn't thrown an interception this year and if he takes care of the ball like that again, it could be a closer game. But the Aggies likely have too much firepower for the Bulldogs here.

Player to watch: Donnie Baggs, Texas A&M

The Aggies will be without a pair of players because of suspensions: weakside linebacker Steven Jenkins and safety Howard Matthews. Baggs, a sophomore from League City (Texas) Clear Springs, is getting the start in the place of Jenkins, who has played well for the Aggies all season. If Baggs can play at a high level, it'll really help the Aggies' efforts to slow Louisiana Tech's high-powered offense. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said that Baggs is coming off his best defensive and special teams game of the season against Mississippi, so he appears to be coming on at the right time.

Matchups to watch:

• Louisiana Tech WR Quinton Patton vs. Texas A&M CB De'Vante Harris

Patton is one of the nation's top receivers, with 34 catches for 532 yards and five touchdowns. He's averaging 106.4 yards per game, which is 11th nationally. Nicknamed "The General," Patton is on the Biletnikoff Award watch list and was the preseason WAC Offensive Player of the Year selection. Harris has had some experience against elite receivers this year, matching up against Cobi Hamilton from Arkansas several times when the Aggies defeated the Razorbacks. If the injured Deshazor Everett can't go, the true freshman Harris could see a lot of time across from Patton.

• Texas A&M PR Dustin Harris vs. Louisiana Tech P Ryan Allen

Allen is one of the best punters in the nation and in 2011 was an All-American and was the Ray Guy Award winner. He's averaging 46.1 yards per punt this year. Harris was the nation's leader in punt return average last season and had a career game against South Carolina State, but his last two games have been struggles, with four returns for -8 yards. It will be interesting to see if Harris can get on track against one of the nation's best punters.