Like almost every other Texas A&M game this surprising season, it was mostly about Johnny Manziel cultivating his legend and setting records, this time for yards in a Cotton Bowl game.
Oklahoma did show up, but were outgained by Manziel alone. The Sooners finished with a total of 401 yards, A&M finished with 633. How many of them were by Manziel, the first Freshman to win the Heisman trophy? 516, Throwing for 287 yards and 2 touchdowns, running for 229 and scoring two touchdowns. A one-man offense at times that puts up numbers worthy of a good top 25 team.
To come in and go against a Big 12 rival and do everything we wanted as a team, and send these seniors out with a win, we couldn’t feel any better. I think tonight was really indicative of this season. It’s one of the teams I thought in the country that truly got better every week.
With a crushing 41-13 win, Texas A&M ensured they win 11 games for the first time since 1998, when they won their only Big 12 title. On their first year in the SEC, they finished 11-2, including a huge win over Alabama at Tuscaloosa, in one of those seasons which could have been perfect if this team was that good right from the start. Johnny Manziel kicked into high gear only after his first couple of performances.
So what did Manziel add to his growing back of milestones and records? He reached 47 touchdowns on the season, 26 passing and 21 rushing. With that, he became just the fourth quarterback in FBS history with 20+ rushing yards and 20+ passing yards in the same season. All those who have done it before him did pretty recently – Cam Newton, Tim Tebow, Colin Kaepernick.
The Aggies became the first SEC team to gain over 7000 yards in a season, finishing with 7261 and averaging 44.8 points per game, 4th in the nation. In passing and rushing they were among the top 14. It was incredible to watch Oklahoma fail to handle Manziel every time, as A&M averaged an amazing 9.6 yards per play, twice as much as Oklahoma.
Landry Jones tried to become the second quarterback to win all four of his bowl games. His career began at Cowboys Stadium in 2009, coming in for Sam Bradford in a shocking loss to BYU. He won 39 career games and finished with 35-48 for 278 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Oklahoma couldn’t get any kind of running game going, finishing with 123 yards on 34 carries, while Damien Williams was held to only 41 yards on 16.
Manziel also became the second quarterback in history with 200+ passing and 200+ rushing yards in a bowl game. The first to do it was Vince Young in the 2006 Rose Bowl, that legendary win over USC to win the national title in what was probably the greatest national title game.
Things just fell apart for Oklahoma in the second half. Landry Jones was 23-30 during the first two quarters, 13-14 behind A&M. Then Manziel simply turned up the afterburners and was off to the races, as A&M finished the game scoring four consecutive touchdowns, setting up the fifth consecutive win by an SEC team in the Cotton Bowl, and only the second time in 13 years the Aggies beat the Sooners.
Next season? Too soon to tell. Seniors and Juniors, like Damontre Moore, leaving to the NFL or to a life beyond football. BUt with Kevin Sumlin and the most explosive College Football player in the nation, beginning the offseason with thoughts about a national title in 2013 aren’t that far fetched.