ARLINGTON — College football’s ultimate freshman phenom did it again.
In a season when Johnny Manziel earned the sport’s most prized possession, upset the No. 1 team on the road and made Texas A&M relevant in the country’s most dominant conference, the first-ever freshman Heisman Trophy winner rewrote the Cotton Bowl’s 77-year-old record book by torching Oklahoma in a reunion of bitter rivals.
Manziel accumulated the most total yards in Cotton Bowl history (516) and created a new FBS milestone for most rushing yards by a quarterback (229) while leading the Aggies, who become the first SEC team to ever top 7,000 yards in a season, to a lopsided 41-13 victory over the Sooners.
For the kid from Kerrville dubbed Johnny Football, however, it was just another day in one of the most unprecedented seasons in NCAA history.
“It’s been a rollercoaster to see how things have played out from the first game to where they are now and what things have played out in my life as well as everybody on this team, how we’ve progressed as a team, how we’ve continued to get better every week,” Manziel said. “I’m not really worried about the future and that right now. I’m really enjoying this.”
Manziel did the same things he did all season long, using his elusiveness to break contain and his maturity to provide poise during a 20-0 third quarter to break the game wide open after holding a one-point halftime lead.
Along the way, he made a believer out of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops, who said Manziel was “absolutely” one of the best quarterbacks he has ever coached against.
“Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be,” he said. “(He was everything I) expected him to be.”
While the Cotton Bowl served as a cherry on top of Manziel and the Aggies’ season, it also marked the conclusion of Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones’ college career.
Jones completed a Cotton Bowl record 23 first-half completions en route to 278 yards on 35 of 48 passing.
But it was not enough to overcome Manziel’s magic. Texas A&M (11-2) on the game’s opening drive as Manziel marched the Aggies 75 yards, delivering a couple dazzling runs before using the sideline like a tightrope andhigh stepping into the end zone with 12:21 remaining in the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, the Sooners settled for a field goal after their drive stalled inside the Aggies’ 5-yard line. Early in the second quarter, despite putting together its longest drive of the year (18 plays lasting 7:26), Oklahoma fell short of the goal line again, and Michael Hunnicutt sent another field goal through the uprights to pull the Sooners within a point, 7-6, with 11:41 remaining before halftime.
The score held until for about five minutes before Texas A&M capitalized on a Jones interception, needing just three plays to go 48 yards in 43 seconds as Manziel capped off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run.
Oklahoma (10-3) finally snapped its streak of fruitless red zone possessions as Jones found Justin Brown for a 6-yard touchdown with 1:16 remaining in the half, and the Sooners went into halftime trailing 14-13.
Early in the third quarter, Texas A&M got big stops, forcing three consecutive three-and-outs to start the quarter, and the Aggies’ offense rolled from there.
“I think the difference in the third quarter was our defense being able to hold up on third down,get off the field and us to convert offensively on third down,” Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said.
Manziel finally let one of his teammates get in the act as junior tailback Ben Malena completed a 7-play, 91-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown, putting the Aggies ahead 21-13. By then end of the period, tailback Trey Williams added a 30-yard score, and Manziel completed a 33-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Swope, giving the Aggies a 34-13 lead and making Manziel the most prolific player in Cotton Bowl history with 412 total yards.
Contact Clay Whittington at firstname.lastname@example.org