Johnny Be Good: Aggies Trounce Sooners In The Cotton Bowl
ARLINGTON, Texas - After more than a month since Texas A&M's last game, and several weeks spent on his Heisman Trophy tour, no one really knew how Johnny Manziel would perform against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl.
It didn't take long to see that Manziel was suffering zero ill effects, as he torched the Sooners for 287 yards passing and 229 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a 41-13 romp.
The Aggies ran away and hid in the third quarter when they scored three touchdowns to turn a one point game at halftime into a runaway laugher. The Sooners controlled the clock for most of the first half in an effort to limit the potent A&M offense, but starting the second half with three consecutive three and outs ended all hopes for the Sooners.
Manziel's 229 rushing yards set a Cotton Bowl record for a quarterback, as did the Aggies 633 total yards of offense. It was another record-setting performance against an OU defense that struggled mightily in the second half of the season.
Manziel had plenty of help, with Ben Malena and Trey Williams combining for 97 rushing yards and a touchdown each. Ryan Swope had 104 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Landry Jones ended his OU career with a solid showing, going 35-for-48 for 278 yards, with a touchdown and one interception. Brennan Clay led the Sooners with 44 yards rushing while Damien Williams chipped in with 41 yards.
Kenny Stills led the receiving corps with seven catches for 67 yards. Jalen Saunders had nine catches for 63 yards, and Justin Brown ended his brief time at OU with seven catches, 57 yards and a touchdown.
It didn't take long for the Sooners to experience the elusiveness and speed of the Heisman Trophy winner. Manziel ripped off a 24-yard scramble on the first third down of the game, and capped the drive with a tightrope walk on the OU sideline for a 23-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game.
The Sooners made it plain on their opening drive they planned to control the clock and keep Manziel off the field as much as possible. The Sooners drove down the field, setting up a first and goal at the Aggies' five-yard line. However, the drive stalled thanks to Blake Bell being stuffed at the one-yard line, then throwing an incomplete pass on third down. Michael Hunnicutt kicked a 23-yard field goal to make the score 7-3.
The Sooners forced an A&M punt on the next possession, but the lack of pressure on Manziel from the defensive alarm was quite alarming. The Sooners took the ball at their own six-yard line and once again steadily worked up the field, Jones picking apart the Aggie defense with short, but efficient passes. The OU drive stalled inside the 10-yard line again, with a third down pass from Jones to Trey Millard glancing off the fullback's hands. Another Hunnicutt field goal made it a one point game.
A&M cruised down the field on its next possession, with 44 yards coming on a Manziel draw to the OU 11-yard line. However, on third down, Manziel's pass deflected off the hands of Malcolme Kennedy into the waiting arms of OU's Javon Harris.
A&M's Dustin Harris intercepted Jones on the ensuing possession, and returned it to the Oklahoma 48-yard line. Three plays later, Manziel was in the end zone once again, boosting the A&M lead to 14-6.
As they have done often this year, OU responded, with Jones leading the Sooners down the field on a 13-play, 83 yard drive. On third and goal from the A&M six-yard line, Jones eluded pressure and rolled to his right to find Justin Brown in the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
Jones' 23 completions in the first half broke the old Cotton Bowl record of 15, set by Tennessee's Rick Clausen. Manziel's 113 first half rushing yards were also a record for a quarterback in a half.