Everyone wanted Johnny Manziel to be humiliated. Everyone wanted him to be humbled. Everyone wanted him to be harried.
All those sanctimonious TV commentators, all those haughty Alabama fans, all those sports morality preachers and surely Nick Saban himself.
But it didn't happen. Johnny Manziel wouldn't let it happen. The Most Interesting Man In College Football once again refused to play by anyone else's script. Instead, he freelanced all over it and almost tore it to shreds in a frantic fourth quarter that ended with mighty Alabama holding on for dear life.
If there ever was a game for Manziel to fall flat on his face, this was it.
Saban and the Crimson Tide would win 49-42, but they didn't slay their Manziel demons. Not even close. Not with Manziel throwing for 464 yards, rushing for 98 more, producing five touchdowns and confounding Saban's defense like no one ever has before for Texas A&M University. Again.
It's another Heisman Trophy-worthy performance for Johnny Football. Manziel proved without a doubt that last year was no fluke. He lost the game and managed to move himself and his school up in all the big trophy races. No. 6 Texas A&M should jump forward in the national rankings after this game.
If you think there are four other college football teams in America capable of fighting Alabama cleat-to-cleat for 60 minutes like Manziel and the Aggies did on a sunny Saturday in College Station, you're crazy.
"Nobody is going to say we quit," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said in his Aggies radio network interview after the game. "Right up to the last snap our guys we're playing hard, giving everything.
"We played hell bent."
None more so than Johnny Manziel himself.
If there ever was a game for Manziel to fall flat on his face, this was it. An annoyed, revenge-hungry No. 1 Alabama team rolling in with extra time to prepare, extra motivation and extra anger — that's a set-up for humiliation. That's what 90 percent of the college football world eagerly anticipated. Johnny Manziel would be put in his place. At last.
It's another Heisman Trophy-worthy performance for Johnny Football. Manziel proved without a doubt that last year was no fluke.
Only Manziel rose to the moment. And then some. Down 28-14 at halftime and 42-21 in the fourth quarter, Manziel kept charging at Alabama like an apparition out of the carefully-coiffed Saban's worst nightmare.
Taunts 'R Alabama
Oh how Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon — he of the mocking "cash money" hand gesture and double throat slash following the touchdown that put the Tide up 28-14 — must have been shocked to see Manziel throw that 95-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans that pulled A&M within 42-25 with 8:37 remaining.
"That's not us," Saban huffed in a halftime TV interview when asked about Yeldon's taunts. "That's not what we do."
Only, it really is. Alabama is the ultimate bully of college football, delighting in pushing and trampling over intimidated opponents. Saban's guys are used to having it easy. They're used to sapping the will out of foes with the force of their reputation and the overwhelming depth of their talent. They usually have no cause to trash talk. Everything's always going their way.
Is it any wonder that when it's not — when Alabama finds a Johnny Manziel that refuses to bow down — the Tide players melt down? Yeldon and Alabama so badly wanted to humiliate Johnny Football that they lost their minds. And very nearly two 21-point leads.
This is the brilliance of Johnny Manziel too. If you still think he's too short or too weak-armed to make it in the NFL after watching this game at Kyle Field, there's no hope for you. You might as well become a scout for the Dallas Cowboys.
Johnny Football is an NFL level talent. Five hundred and sixty two total yards against Alabama and more magical escapes after magical escapes prove that without a shadow of a doubt. Manziel looked like San Francisco 49ers wonder Colin Kaepernick at times Saturday. A Nick Saban defense has never given up this many points in a game before in his whole storied, outside-the-stadium-trophy worthy run in Tuscaloosa.
Manziel managed to lose the Game of the Century and still look better for it.
"You took about 10 years off my life," Saban told Sumlin in the traditional coaches' postgame handshake.
"We can move the football and score on anybody," Sumlin said in his radio spot.
All because of Johnny Manziel. No other quarterback does this to Alabama. Even when the game is all but over, with AJ McCarron and Alabama up two scores again with little more than two minutes remaining, the Crimson Tide cannot crush Johnnny Manziel.
They know he has to pass. They know they can just tee off on him. Yet, still, there's Manziel sidestepping one rusher, breaking free of another and flinging a 32-yard strike on the run to Evans. The Aggies will score again.
"I kept telling [my teammates] we were never out of it," Manziel said in his own televised news conference (yes, A&M let him speak). "We felt like we could score points.”
So much for the humiliation. So much for the humbling. Everyone wanted it, but one man wouldn't let them get it.
Johnny Manziel managed to lose the Game of the Century — the highest scalper priced ticket in college football history — and still look better for it. Haters beware. Johnny Football be good. Very good. His comeuppance isn't coming anytime soon.
"He makes a tremendous amount of plays that nobody else could probably make," Saban said afterward.
The overlord of college football won and still walked away with a monster migraine. That's Johnny Football. That's real magic.