Turns out Johnny Heisman is just as good as Johnny Football.
In his first game after winning college football’s top award, Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel set an AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic record for most total yards, leading his No. 9 Aggies on a 41-13 rout of No. 11 Oklahoma Friday at Cowboy Stadium.
Manziel ran for 229 yards on 17 carries, which was also a record for rushing yards by a QB in any FBS bowl game. The redshirt freshman completed 22 of 34 passes for 287 yards and two TDs and earned the Stanford Trophy as the game’s most outstanding offensive player.
He scored the game’s first touchdown in the first quarter by tight-roping the sideline for a 23-yard run. He ran another score in on a 5-yard rollout in the second quarter and then found Ryan Swope on a 33-yard TD pass in the third. Manziel capped his night with a 34-yard pass to Uzoma Nwachukwu in the fourth quarter to make it 41-13.
“There is 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, there was nothing. 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.”
In the first half, the 77th Cotton Bowl Classic was everything it was hyped to be, as both offense clicked up and down the field. Texas A&M (11-2) scored on an 8-play, 75-yard drive to open the game before Oklahoma (10-3) ripped off 16-play and 18-play drives that ended in field goals.
Texas A&M was able to stop the colorfully nicknamed BellDozer, Oklahoma backup and goal line QB Blake Bell on the first before forcing a Landry Jones incompletion in the back of the end zone.
The Aggies added Manziel’s second TD after a pair of Sooner field goals to make it 14-6. Oklahoma then capped the quarter with a 13-play drive covering 83 yards that ended with a 6-yard TD pass from Jones to Justin Brown.
“You give Texas A&M all the credit for playing a great, great football game, and in particular the second half,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “They played outstanding. Johnny Manziel is everything he was billed to be, (that we) expected him to be. When you lose like that in the second half, the offense goes. We hadn't had a punt in the entire first half.
“We come out and go three-and-out, three-and-out, three-and-out, giving them all the field opportunities. You can't keep giving them opportunities. In the first half, we played together as a team, limited them, used the clock and scored. That's how you have to play 'em. In the second half, it totally broke down offensively and defensively. Our defense couldn't get off the field.”
Oklahoma was seven for nine on third down conversions in the first half and was not forced to punt once. But, that changed in the second half, when A&M’s defense held Oklahoma to one conversion on six attempts.
Dustin Harris provided the game’s only turnover, picking off a Landry Jones pass in the second to set up Manziel’s second rushing TD. Harris, a former Livingston quarterback who was playing in his final game with the Aggies, earned the McKnight Trophy as the game’s outstanding defensive player, adding 10 tackles and a pass breakup to his INT.
“We made some adjustments, huh?” A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “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. 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. I think every week these guys understood what the plan was and they went out and executed it at a high level and played with a lot of energy. We were excited to play tonight. I think the energy in the building helped. What a great crowd.”
A&M’s offense kept going throughout the game, setting a Cotton Bowl record with 633 yards of offense and breaking a record previously held by USC, who had 578 yards in 1995 against Texas Tech. Manziel contributed 516 of those yards, both rushing and passing, but true freshman Trey Williams had three carries for 38 yards and a pretty 30-yard TD run in the third.
Junior tailback Ben Malena also added 56 rushing yards on eight carries with a 7-yard TD in the third quarter. Senior wideout Ryan Swope, playing in his final game with the Aggies, had a game-high 104 yards on eight catches and a touchdown.
A&M defensive end Damontre Moore, who declared for the 2013 NFL draft last week, had four tackles, including one for a loss, and a quarterback hit.
For Oklahoma, Jones finished 35 for 48 passing for 278 yards with one TD and one INT. Brennan Clay was the team’s leading rusher, gaining 44 yards on 10 carries while Jalen Saunders led the team in receiving, catching nine passes for 63 yards.
NOTES: This was the 18th straight game Texas A&M has scored first, dating back to 2011. …This is the eighth Cotton Bowl to host a Heisman winner. Only the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl have more. … Oklahoma’s Landry Jones set a Cotton Bowl record in a half for both completions (23) and attempts (30). … A&M is 5-8 all-time in Cotton Bowl appearances, snapping a six game losing streak. A&M is also second all-time in Cotton Bowl appearances behind Texas’ 22. …This was the first time since 1940-41 that A&M has won back-to-back bowl games. The last time they did it was in the Sugar Bowl (14-13 over Tulane) and in the Cotton Bowl over Fordham….Sumlin became the first A&M coach to win 11 or more games in his first season at the helm. The previous best was eight wins by D.X. Bible in 1917 and Orange’s R.C. Slocum in 1987. It was the first time A&M has won 11 games in a season since 1998.