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November 22, 2013

SEC FOOTBALL: Manziel, No. 9 A&M face tough test at No. 18 LSU

BATON ROUGE, La. — Another season filled with memorable scrambles, long touchdown throws and gaudy statistics has Johnny Manziel in contention for a second straight Heisman Trophy.

It could come down to how well Manziel plays in two tough road games at the end of the regular season, starting this Saturday with Texas A&M's visit to LSU's Tiger Stadium.

"Performances by our complete team and by him to close out the season are going to have a lot to say about awards for all kinds of folks and where we're going to be in the bowl conversation," Aggies coach Kevin Sumlim surmised this week.

The final two weeks will say a lot about how good the Aggies (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) really are. After visiting LSU (7-3, 3-3), which is 5-0 in Death Valley, Manziel and Co. travel to SEC East-leading Missouri.

No. 9 Texas A&M and No. 18 LSU are already out of the SEC championship picture, but retain goals of double-digit victories and significant bowl bids — the hallmarks of elite programs.

Sumlin, who has never coached at Tiger Stadium, recalled seeing LSU coach Les Miles on television after big home victories, saying that Death Valley is the place where opponents' "dreams come to die."

"We're trying to keep our dreams alive," Sumlin said.

The Tigers are trying to help Miles become the first LSU coach to have four straight 10-win seasons, which can be accomplished with victories over A&M this week, Arkansas next week, and a bowl opponent after that.

"If we get 10 wins it will be a successful season," running back Jeremy Hill said. "We're still motivated. ... I'm sure if we win these next two games there will be a bowl that we can get pretty excited for."

Here are five things to watch for when Texas A&M plays at LSU:

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