Aggies rout Sooners in Cotton Bowl
Texas A&M wins over Oklahoma 41-13
Manziel shattered a host of records as the No. 9 Aggies blitzed No. 11 Oklahoma 41-13 Friday night in AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium.
"There was too much talk about how you perform after the Heisman and about the layoff and all that," Manziel said. "There wasn't anything holding us back. No rust. We played as a unit and that's all you can ask for.
"I couldn't be more proud of the seniors and what they've done this year. To go out and win 11 games and do what we've done is impressive."
Texas A&M broke up a tight matchup of former Big 12 rivals with a 20-point third quarter, improving to 11-2 after its first season in the Southeastern Conference. Only the fourth 11-win season in school history came in Kevin Sumlin's first season as Texas A&M coach.
"Tonight was really indicative of this season," Sumlin said. "It's one of the teams I thought in the country that truly got better every week.
"We didn't always do everything right all the time, but I don't think there was ever a game this year where these guys didn't play with tremendous effort."
Manziel, known nationally as Johnny Football, broke the Cotton Bowl record for total yards (516) and the all-time bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback (229). The 20-year-old dynamo accounted for four touchdowns -- two rushing and two passing -- as the Aggies racked up a Cotton Bowl-record 633 total yards.
"Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be, expected him to be," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
The Sooners, co-champions in the Big 12, finished the season 10-3 and had won five in row before running into the A&M buzzsaw. Senior quarterback Landry Jones had 278 yards passing for Oklahoma, which was seeking a school record fourth straight bowl win.
"It's the same talent level, same guys we played last year," Jones said of the Aggies, who lost 41-25 to OU in 2011. "But they played well tonight and we didn't."
Manziel and the Aggies became a sensation after upsetting defending national champion Alabama on the road on Nov. 10. Texas A&M takes a six-game winning streak into next season, will likely open in the Top 10 and be part of the conversation as a championship contender.
If Manziel's performance this season is any indication, the Aggies will be up to the task.
"For everybody next year, this is the first game of the new year," Sumlin said. "It sets the bar."
The Sooners routinely had their way with Texas A&M as conference mates. But after an even first half, the Manziel and Co. blew the game open in the third quarter.
The Aggies forced Oklahoma's first three punts of the game on its first three possessions of the second half. All three stops were turned into touchdowns, as Texas A&M opened up a 34-13 lead.
"We come out and go three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, giving them all the field opportunities," Stoops said. "You can't keep giving them opportunities.
"Where in the first half we played together as a team, limited them, used the clock, scored. That's how you have to play 'em. In the second half it totally broke down offensively and defensively."
After the first punt, Manziel hit a several big passes on the first drive, which covered 91 yards. Running back Ben Malena scored on a 7-yard option pitch. The Aggies then went 89 yards, with freshman running back Trey Williams breaking several tackles on a 30-yard score.
After the third punt, Manziel and receiver Ryan Swope (104 yards receiving) connected on a short completion on fourth down that became a 33-yard touchdown.
Texas A&M took a 14-13 lead into halftime behind two touchdowns and 113 yards from Manziel. Jones threw for 175 yards and a touchdown, setting a Cotton Bowl first-half record with 23 completions.
Oklahoma was able to run 51 plays in the first half for 249 yards and convert 7 of 9 third downs. The Aggies had 258 yards and made 5 of 8 third downs.
Manziel, as he's done all season, led the Aggies to a touchdown on their first drive. The 75-yard march featured seven runs for 71 yards, including third-down scrambles from Manziel of 24 and 23 yards.
The latter was a tip-toe job along the sideline that carried Manziel into the end zone. The Aggies have scored a touchdown on the opening drive in 10 straight games and have scored first overall in 18 consecutive games dating to 2011.
The Sooners drove right down the field on their first possession behind Jones' precision passing game. At the Texas A&M 1, though, Oklahoma stalled. A run by designated goal line quarterback Blake Bell on second down was stuffed. Bell's third-down rollout fell incomplete.
The Sooners were going for it on fourth down, but a false start forced a field goal. Michael Hunnicutt drilled a 23-yarder to cut the Aggies' lead to 7-3.
Manziel came out throwing on the Aggies' second drive, but A&M had to punt. Oklahoma, taking over on its 6, nearly went the distance with a mammoth 18-play drive that again took it inside the Texas A&M 10.
The Sooners converted three third downs in a row along the way before Texas A&M finally held. Hunnicutt's 24-yard field pulled OU within 7-6 with 11:41 left in the second quarter.
The first turnover of the game cost the Aggies a chance to build on their lead. Manziel had A&M at the OU 5, thanks in part to a 44-yard run, but his third down pass bounced off the hands of receiver Malcome Kennedy and into the arms of Oklahoma safety Javon Harris.
The Aggies got the ball back on the Sooners' ensuing possession, as cornerback Dustin Harris picked off Jones and returned it 22 yards. Three plays and 48 seconds later, Texas A&M was up 14-6.
An end-around pass from receiver Kenric McNeal to receiver Mike Evans for 20 yards got the drive started. Manziel finished it with an easy 5-yard jaunt for a touchdown.
Jones finished out the first half scoring by capping a 13-play march with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Justin Brown on third down with 1:16 left in the second quarter.