Texas A&M-Oklahoma Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 18, 2012
As the college football world awaits the highly anticipated matchup between Notre Dame and Alabama for the BCS championship, there's a bowl game three days earlier that is creating similar buzz. That's because Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and 10th-ranked Texas A&M will take on No. 12 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 4, and while the game isn't a BCS bowl, it figures to be one of the more entertaining clashes of the postseason. The Aggies (10-2) and Sooners (10-2) finished in the top 11 in the final BCS standings, but neither received an at-large bid. Oklahoma's chances ended when Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois moved up to 15th, which was enough to secure an automatic bid. Texas A&M got left out because three SEC teams (Alabama, Florida, LSU) were ranked higher, with the Crimson Tide and Gators representing the conference in BCS bowls. The Sooners split the Big 12 title with Kansas State, but the Wildcats clinched the league's automatic BCS bid because they won 24-19 at Oklahoma on Sept. 22. That leaves an intriguing matchup in this game between former Big 12 rivals, especially with Manziel the talk of the sport after becoming the first freshman to win the Heisman. "We hit a home run," Cotton Bowl chairman Tommy Bain said. "When our team selection committee met for the first time a few weeks ago, we circled this matchup as the one we most wanted, and the cards fell in our favor." The cards fell in Manziel's favor Dec. 8, when the redshirt freshman quarterback known as "Johnny Football" beat out Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o and Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein for the Heisman. Manziel broke 2010 Heisman winner Cam Newton's SEC record with 4,600 total yards in the Aggies' first season in the league, and his coming-out party came at the expense of the then-No. 1 Crimson Tide. Manziel went 24 of 31 for 253 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 92 yards in a 29-24 win at Alabama on Nov. 10, ending the defending national champion's 13-game winning streak. He passed for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns while running for 1,181 yards and 19 scores. That made him the first freshman, first SEC player and fifth player overall to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 in a season. While thrilled he made history in winning the Heisman, Manziel was quick to get his mind set on his next goals. "First and foremost, there's the Cotton Bowl," he said. "From there, I have to be the guy who starts the motor for a run at the national title next year." Before the Aggies begin that quest, they will face a Sooners team - led by senior quarterback Landry Jones - that suffered its only other loss by a 30-13 score at home to the Fighting Irish on Oct. 27. Jones had another outstanding season, completing 65.5 percent of his passes for 3,989 yards and 29 TDs. He set a school record with 554 yards in a 50-49 win at West Virginia on Nov. 17 and passed for 500 more the following week in a 51-48 overtime victory over then-No. 22 Oklahoma State, making him the career Big 12 career leader in passing yards. A 244-yard performance in a season-ending 24-17 win at TCU on Dec. 1 gave him 16,368 yards - third most in NCAA history - and 122 TDs in 51 games at Oklahoma. Jones is the Sooners' career leader in passing yards, TD passes, wins (39), completions (1,353) and attempts (2,135). He is the first FBS quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 yards and 26 touchdowns in four seasons. "Football's a crazy game," Jones said. "There's ups and downs, good and bad. You have to stay somewhere in that middle ground, realizing who you are and what you're capable of and what type of offense you are. "When you need a play, just go out and make it." Manziel made plenty of plays under the tutelage of first-year Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, but the 33-year-old Kingsbury won't be around for this game after accepting the head coaching job at his alma mater Texas Tech on Dec. 12. Kingsbury crafted a Texas A&M attack that was third in the country in yards per game (552.3) and scoring average (44.8). "You look at what our offense did this year. People didn't really think that we were going to have much success in the SEC," said Manziel, who will be the first Heisman winner to play in the Cotton Bowl since Texas' Ricky Williams following the 1998 season. "They said these smashmouth, hard-nose defenses and this gimmick offense ... won't work. "For us to come into Alabama and some of the other games and really stress tempo, tempo, tempo. We want to move fast. We want to make people uncomfortable. That was our main goal this year. Our offense with coach Sumlin and what coach Kingsbury did, I love it. I love everything about it. It's definitely something that can work if you have the right people in place for it." Oklahoma was just as solid on offense with averages of 505.9 yards and 40.3 points, and the teams also have similar defensive statistics. The Sooners allow 378.8 yards and 24.2 points per game, while the Aggies give up averages of 389.3 and 22.5. Oklahoma is 27-17-1 in bowl games and will be trying to match a school record with a fourth straight bowl win. The Sooners beat Arkansas 10-3 in their only other trip to the Cotton Bowl after the 2001 season. "The Cotton Bowl has long been a marquee postseason destination, and we're excited about being selected to play there a second time," coach Bob Stoops said. "Cowboys Stadium is a great venue, and I know Sooner fans will be excited to make the trip to support us." Texas A&M is in the Cotton Bowl for the 13th time. The Aggies, 14-19 in bowl games, lost 41-24 to LSU following the 2010 season to extend their skid at this event to six. Oklahoma won eight of the final nine meetings between the teams before Texas A&M left for the SEC, but those victories came before Manziel and Sumlin joined the Aggies. Plus, Sumlin is familiar with the Sooners after being a member of Stoops' staff from 2003-07 prior to leaving to become Houston's head coach. He served as a co-offensive coordinator at the end of his time with Oklahoma. "Our football team is excited to play another game against a storied program such as Oklahoma," Sumlin said. "We have been led all year by a great group of seniors and to be rewarded with a great experience like the Cotton Bowl is something they will cherish."
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Agent: Bryant ‘heartbroken that he’s not allowed to play’

Report: Trent Baalke could lose job if 49ers don’t show progress

Lawsuit: Baylor players gang raped student, school knew

Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick reportedly remain far apart

Eddie Lacy defends Mike McCarthy for weight loss comments


Red Sox nearly had serious catcher emergency in loss to Tigers

Ohio State DL Dylan Thompson ineligible for season

Roger Federer will miss Olympics, U.S. Open with knee injury

Seahawks extend Pete Carroll through 2019

LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye releases first statement following car crash

Report: Brock Osweiler could have made more money staying with Broncos

Five NFL teams set to rise up in 2016

Jeremy Lin reportedly looking to trademark phrase ‘Brook-Lin’

Matt Leinart engaged to actress Josie Loren

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

Report: Paul Pierce to return to Clippers

Jimbo Fisher: You come to FSU to win national championships

Andre Johnson worked out for Tennessee Titans

Shattenkirk for Krejci trade rumor still floating around

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman denies link to C.T.E.

Michael Vick: Cam Newton can’t beat me in 40-yard dash

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

Odell Beckham Jr. says Giants will play in Super Bowl LI

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

WATCH: Inside the Nike SNKRS BOX in SF for Golden Air Celebration

WATCH: Five other uniforms Chris Sale should cut up

QUIZ: Name every Olympic event in which the USA has never won a gold medal

Five U.S. Olympians favored to win multiple gold medals

WATCH: What teams should join the Big 12?

One Gotta Go: Do NBA players really love NBA2K?

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Follow Yardbarker