Entering the 2013 Cotton Bowl, there was legitimate fear amongst Texas A&M fans that maybe, just maybe, Johnny Manziel had too much fun on the postseason awards circuit. In their defense, you can see why, since Manziel seemingly spent more time over the last month hanging out with LeBron James, Megan Fox and the Jonas Brothers than he did in the film room. And while no one could blame Manziel for making the choices he did (I mean come on, we are talking about Megan Fox here), many thought it might cost him against Oklahoma on Friday night.
Yeah, about that.
If Johnny Manziel wasn’t focused on Friday night, well, the college football world might as well just get set to hand him the next couple Heisman’s and A&M a couple BCS title trophies too. In front of a national audience, Manziel put up a performance for the ages, gashing Oklahoma’s defense for 516 yards of total offense and four touchdowns in an easy breezy 41-13 Aggies win.
For Manziel, it was another banner evening in a season full of them, as he put up those 516 yards against a Sooners’ defense which allowed an average of just 380 per game all season long. Well Manziel easily surpassed that on Friday night and in the process, broke the Cotton Bowl record of 412 yards of total offense...and did it midway through the third quarter. He scored on rushing touchdowns of 23 and five yards, and had passing scores to Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu as well.
If anything, Friday night once again proved that this is Johnny Football’s world and we’re all just lucky enough to be living in it, and now the fun part begins: Just how good can this program become with Manziel remaining on campus over the next couple years?
It’s a question that college football fans will spend the next seven or eight months debating, although the answer may have little to do with Manziel himself.
All-American linebacker Damontre Moore has already made his professional intentions known and stud offensive tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are both juniors who are projected to be Top 10 picks, and could go to the pros as well. Add in departing seniors like Swope (64 catches and a team-high eight touchdown grabs), Christine Michael (12 rushing touchdowns) and Jonathan Stewart and Sean Porter on defense, and it’s easy to see a scenario where the Aggies take a step back in 2013. That doesn’t even include the impact that offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury- a man who is now the Texas Tech head coach- had on Texas A&M's offense.
Of course at the same time, let’s also remember that Manziel- and his 47 total touchdowns- do return to College Station next fall, along with plenty of offensive talent around him. Meaning that whether the college football world is ready for it or not, Texas A&M could be a tried and true BCS title contender after all.
Beyond Manziel, second-leading rusher Ben Malena is a junior and will return to campus, as will leading receiver Mike Evans who is just a freshman. Trey Williams was a highly-rated recruit who should see more of a role in the offense next year, and the Aggies will also welcome in the nation’s top high school receiver Ricky Seals-Jones into the mix as well. Simply put, as long as Manziel stays healthy, this team will score points.
Now, whether it’s enough points to compete for a National Championship remains to be seen.
Still, if Friday night proved anything, it’s that if Manziel is under center, the Aggies have the potential to beat just about anyone in college football. And beat them big.
For all his insight, opinion and analysis on college football, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.