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A&M 41, OU 13

Aggies cruise to Cotton Bowl victory over Sooners, but can Manziel keep the magic alive?

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Texas A&M football players
Ryan Swope and Johnny Manziel celebrate in the endzone at the Cotton Bowl.  Texas A&M University/Facebook
Texas A&M football fans at Cowboys Stadium
The Aggies and the Sooners brought a raucous, sold-out crowd to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.  Texas A&M University/Facebook
Texas A&M Alabama Manziel
Heisman Trophy Winner Johnny Manziel, shown here after the Aggies victory over No. 1 Alabama, did not let his recent success get in the way of winning the Cotton Bowl.  Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Texas A&M football players
Texas A&M football fans at Cowboys Stadium
Texas A&M Alabama Manziel
Matthew Postins headshot

So much for a Heisman Trophy hangover. Johnny Manziel looked like he was ready to join Archie Griffin as the only two-time Heisman winner.

Texas A&M’s redshirt freshman quarterback helped the Aggies dominate Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, 41-13. From the beginning, Manziel didn’t look the part of a quarterback that might have been distracted by his schedule since he won the Heisman last month, a schedule that included banquets, awards, basketball games and meeting actress Megan Fox.

Manziel’s first touchdown saw him dance down the sideline and hop into the end zone, a flourish that underscored the joie de vivre with which “Johnny Football” has played with this season.

His numbers against the Sooners, like most of his games this season, were dominant. He threw for 288 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He rushed for 229 yards and two touchdowns. He nearly became the second person in the history of college football to pass for 300 yards and rush for 200 yards in a single game.

Adjectives are becoming difficult to come by when it comes to Manziel, a player only die-hard Aggie fans knew in early August when fall workouts began. Now he’s the main man in college football. And Aggie fans get at least two more years of him, since Manziel can’t turn pro until after his junior year.

A magical season
Manziel and the Aggies went into college football’s toughest conference, the SEC, won 11 games and beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Manziel should enjoy it as much as the law will allow, because next season could be much different.

The Aggies will no longer be able to protect Manziel from the media’s glare. The Aggies’ rule that doesn’t allow freshmen to do interviews goes out the window. There will be demands on Manziel’s time next season that will make the last month look like a stroll at the Galleria.

 There are now sky-high expectations in Aggieland.

There are expectations now in Aggieland. In fact, they’re sky-high. The Aggies looked like legit national championship contenders as they destroyed the Sooners.

It wasn’t just Manziel. The defense kept a lid on the Sooners, shutting them out in the second half. The Aggies are going to be a trendy national championship pick, which ratchets up expectations.

Finally, every SEC defensive coordinator has a year’s worth of film on Manziel and will spend the next eight months looking for ways to slow him down. That wasn’t easy in 2012. He proved about as elusive as a ringtail in Palo Duro Canyon during tourist season.

The story's not finished yet
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is getting ready for Notre Dame next week. But you know he can’t wait to get another crack at Manziel.

The beauty of Manziel’s season was that it came out of nowhere and seemed to have a purity of competition that is sometimes lacking in college football. If Manziel were leaving Aggieland tomorrow for the NFL, it would be a perfect ending.

But he’s not, and the stars don’t always align for Heisman winners who come back for more.

Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won a national championship after winning the Heisman Trophy. USC quarterback Matt Leinart reached the national championship game after he won the Heisman, but his Trojans lost to Texas. Sam Bradford returned for as a senior after winning the Heisman and played three games in an injury-riddled season.

For now, it’s high cotton for Manziel. But next season we’ll find out just how special Johnny Football really is. If he gets better, the Aggies may be celebrating more than a Cotton Bowl victory.

Think BCS. Think Pasadena.

That’s the potential power of Johnny Football.

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