Manziel leads A&M to Cotton Bowl rout of Sooners

At one point early in the Cotton Bowl, with ”Johnny B. Goode”

blaring through the stadium speakers, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny

Manziel peeked up at the accompanying highlights on the huge video

board hanging over the field.

Texas A&M’s exciting dual-threat quarterback known as Johnny

Football sure puts on a show worth watching.

”Best player I’ve ever played. He does so many good things.

He’s got magic,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.

”He’ll have a chance to win four (Heismans) if he stays

healthy.”

Manziel tiptoed down the sideline for a 23-yard TD on the game’s

opening drive and went on to an FBS bowl record for quarterbacks

with 229 yards rushing on 17 carries. He also set a Cotton Bowl

record with 516 total yards as the 10th-ranked Aggies beat No. 12

Oklahoma 41-13 on Friday night to wrap up their first SEC

season.

With first-year coach Kevin Sumlin and their young star

quarterback after leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the Aggies (11-2)

overwhelming won the only bowl game matching teams from those two

power conferences. They won 11 games for the first time since 1998,

their only Big 12 title season.

The Aggies never trailed while winning their last six games and

became the first SEC team with more than 7,000 total yards – 7,261

after gaining 633 in the Cotton Bowl.

”It’s huge for this program, and for me especially, with the

kind of woes A&M has had over the past decade or however long

it’s been since they had 11 wins,” Manziel said. ”For us to get

up tonight and watch them battle back, it’s good when we strike

first. That’s what we like to do. It was good to do that and not

really look back.”

Texas A&M led by only a point at halftime, but scored on its

first three drives of the second half – on drives of 91 and 89

yards before Manziel threw a short pass to Ryan Swope on

fourth-and-5 that turned into a 33-yard TD and a 34-13 lead.

Oklahoma (10-3), which like the Aggies entered the game with a

five-game winning streak, went three-and-out on its first three

drives after halftime in what was quarterback Landry Jones’ 50th

and final career start.

”Feel just disappointed that he’s going out this way, getting

beat like that,” Sooners center Gabe Ikard said.

Jones completed 35 of 48 passes for 278 yards with a touchdown

and an interception. He won 39 games and three bowls for the

Sooners, in a career that started on the same field in the 2009

season opener when he replaced injured Heisman winner Sam Bradford

in the first college game at Cowboys Stadium.

But Jones missed out becoming only the third NCAA quarterback to

go 4-0 as a starter in bowl games.

”It was obvious tonight that we didn’t play the way we should

have played,” said Jones, whose frustration was evident when he

yelled at a teammate after a failed fourth-down play. ”We couldn’t

run it. We couldn’t throw it. It happens, you know.”

SEC teams have won the last five Cotton Bowls, all against Big

12 teams, and nine out of 10. That included Texas A&M’s loss to

LSU only two years ago.

It had been six weeks since the Aggies played their last game,

and four weeks since Manziel became the first freshman to win

college football’s highest individual award.

Manziel got it started with an electrifying 24-yard run on third

down on the opening drive. Then on a third-and-10, Manziel rolled

to his left and took off, juked around a defender and got near the

sideline. He tiptoed to stay in bounds and punctuated his 23-yard

score with a high-step over the pylon for a quick lead.

Officials reviewed the play to make sure he did stay in bounds,

and the replays showed clearly that he did.

”There is too much talk about how you perform after the Heisman

and about the layoff and all of that,” said Manziel, who set an

SEC record with 4,600 total yards in the regular season. ”There

wasn’t anything holding us back. No rust, there was no nothing. We

played as a unit.”

The chants of ”S-E-C! S-E-C!” began after Swope’s TD catch

with 4 minutes left in the third quarter. They got louder and

longer after that, and Manziel spread both his arms out and ran off

the field like he was flying.

Oklahoma was in the Cotton Bowl for only the second time. It was

the first bowl matchup between the former Big 12 rivals, but the

17th consecutive season they have played each other.

The Sooners had won 11 of 13 in the series since Bob Stoops

became their coach. That included a 77-0 Oklahoma win in 2003 that

was the most-lopsided loss in Texas A&M history.

Sumlin was the A&M offensive coordinator in 2002 when the

Aggies upset the top-ranked Sooners. The next year, Sumlin was

hired by Stoops as an assistant, and he stayed there five seasons

before going to Houston as head coach and now the Aggies.

”I think 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.”