Texas A&M defeats OU in Cotton Bowl 41-13
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Friday, January 04, 2013
1/05/13 at 2:56 AM
ARLINGTON, Texas — The third quarter wasn’t even over, much as Oklahoma wished otherwise, and the chant began to echo across Cowboys Stadium.
The Texas A&M Aggies did strike a blow for their new conference in Friday night’s Cotton Bowl, whipsawing old conference ally Oklahoma 41-13 in the process. College football’s colossus was now 4-3 in bowl season, the Big 12 was 4-5.
The validation was more A&M’s, though, than the SEC’s. It was living proof of the Aggies’ emerging power under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin, and the electric wizardry of freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Both factored heavily in an outcome that ended OU’s season at 10-3 and made the 11-2Aggies 11-game winners for the first time since their 1998 Big 12 championship season.
Manziel showed no rust from the six-week layoff from his last game, or the glitzy victory tour he took after winning the Heisman Trophy. If anything, he was more dazzling than when anyone last saw him Nov. 24 against Missouri.
Manziel rushed for 113 yards in the first half, then another 116 in the second. That gave him a record rushing total for any quarterback in any bowl. He went 22-of-34 through the air for 287 yards. He accounted for four touchdowns.
“There wasn’t anything holding us back. No rust. There was nothing,” said Manziel, the game’s offensive MVP. “To go against a Big 12 rival and do everything we wanted as a team, and send these seniors out with a win, we couldn’t feel any better.”
This was supposed to be a sort of duel with Landry Jones. The OU quarterback kept up for a half, when he totaled a Cotton Bowl-record 23 completions, but fell woefully short in the end.
Jones put up some typical numbers – 35 completions in 48 attempts for 278 yards – but his offense failed to register a point in the second half. Jones’ offense settled for field goals on two of three first-half trips inside the A&M 10-yard line.
Manziel was the best quarterback and best player on the field by a longshot. He was occasionally spectacular during a first half in which the Aggies took a 14-13 lead.
He was unstoppable during the Aggies’ 20-0 third-quarter run.
With Manziel at the helm, and nothing to worry about thanks to an offensive line that pushed OU defenders around like chess pieces, A&M gained a Cotton Bowl-record 633 yards on just 66 plays. The skill players both behind and wide of him finished plays he started, and it became was an avalanche.
The Sooners kept up for a half, thanks to a grinding, time-consuming offense that, ironically, resembled classic SEC bullies. The first half was bizarre. The Sooners had the ball for 20 of the 30 minutes, and racked up 20 first downs. Manziel was hardly on the field, and OU stopped him on three of his five series.
Maybe the Sooners could win a shootout, as many figured they’d have to in order to prevail.
But when the Aggies came out of halftime the more efficient, better-coached team, that hope died quickly.
The Sooners ran three plays and punted for the first time. Manziel came on and led a 90-yard touchdown drive behind perfectly delivered completions of 35 and 19 yards.
OU ran three plays and punted again. Manziel came on and led an 89-yard touchdown drive capped by Trey Williams’ 30-yard scoring run.
OU ran three plays and kicked it away once more. Once more, the Aggies answered with a touchdown drive. This one covered 71 yards, Ryan Swope handling the last 33 on a fourth-and-5 quickie from Manziel.
Swope made the catch, shook defensive back Julian Wilson and strolled home to make it 34-13 with 3:55 remaining in the quarter. That’s when A&M fans who drowned out OU supporters from the pregame tailgate began their battle cry.
It was the Sooners’ turn to discover what everyone in the SEC already knew – the Aggies were a handful on their slow days, and holy heck to beat on rhythmic ones like Friday.
It was such a mismatch that, despite OU’s co-conference title, it should leave staff members asking plenty of questions in the coming weeks.
Most obvious, after a Cotton Bowl that coach Bob Stoops called “disappointing in every way for sure, for me and for us”: How to restock a defense so short of difference-making defensive linemen and linebackers?
And what to change about a scheme that also surrendered 778 yards to West Virginia, and nearly 500 more to both Oklahoma State and Baylor in November?
As for Friday night, it was worth asking what happened to start the second half.
“They went three-man front on us,” center Gabe Ikard said for the offense, “and we couldn’t run the ball well enough. They did the same thing Notre Dame did to us.”
Stoops was asked if Manziel ranked among the best quarterbacks he has faced.
“Absolutely,” he answered. “Not only throwing the football, but with what he does running the ball, he’s incredibly hard to handle… If you get an angle on him, he stops and goes the other way. If he doesn’t he outruns you.”
Hey, at least Manziel is no longer your problem, someone suggested to Stoops. He and the Aggies can go back to freaking out the SEC.
A silver lining, perhaps?
“That’s fair,” Stoops said, “the way today went.”
Oklahoma's Blake Bell runs the ball under pressure from Jonathan Steward (11), Howard Matthews(31) and Steven Jenkins (45). MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Sterling Shepard runs under pressure from Deshazor Everett of Texas A&M. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Brennan Clay runs the ball. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Oklahoma's Landry Jones (12), Drew Allen (15) and Blake Bell take the field for warmups before the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic on Friday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin (left) and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops pose for photos with the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Field Scovell Trophy during a news conference Wednesday. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World