Johnny Manziel leads the Texas A&M Aggies against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Cotton Bowl.
So here is my Cotton Bowl pick.
9 Texas A&M - 10-2
11 Oklahoma - 10-2
The thinking was that Texas A&M would enter their first season in the SEC and take their lumps. They had a new coach in Kevin Sumlin, and they had lost their QB from the previous season in Ryan Tannehill to the NFL. So a struggle was expected initially, but that struggle never happened. Texas A&M ended up taking the SEC by storm.
Kevin Sumlin hit the ground running, and didn’t succumb to the negative expectations. He installed his explosive offense and found himself a QB in Johnny Manziel that not only adequately replaced Ryan Tannehill, but will end up going down as one of the best Aggies ever.
The Oklahoma Sooners were the opposite of the Aggies at the start of the season, as they were a favorite to win their conference, were ranked in the top five in most polls, and had an experienced senior QB returning from last season in Landry Jones. And early on things were going according to plan for the Sooners. That is until they ran into the Kansas State Wildcats, and supremacy in the Big 12 shifted with that loss.
Oklahoma then won three straight games in dominating fashion, and many thought the result would be the same against the visiting Notre Dame Fighting Irish. But Notre Dame not only upset the Sooners but beat them handily, and with two losses questions arose as to how Oklahoma would finish out the season? But the Sooners finished strong with five straight wins and ended up second in the Big 12 behind Kansas State.
For Texas A&M, you began to hear the talk of a “Johnny Football” starting to surface. But how good could he be? Yes Manziel had a few good performances to start the season, but surely that would all be put bed once he played more SEC games. But the thing is it wasn’t put to bed, and the talk began to grow more and more with each passing game.
And then I watched the Aggies play, and I realized that “Johnny Football” wasn’t just a cute nickname. Johnny Manziel was for real. However, doubt continued to linger, and even though you had to admit that Manziel was for real, surely he’d be put in check by the mighty Alabama Crimson Tide defense, right? Wrong.
Manziel solidified his Heisman Trophy win with one of the most spectacular performances that anyone could have expected to witness. Not only did Manziel play well against the vaunted Crimson Tide, he was electrifying, and to top it all off he led the Aggies to the upset win.
And this is why I think the Aggies will defeat Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. These teams are familiar with each other, from their days in the Big 12, but Texas A&M is a totally different program now. The Sooners have a very good QB in Landry Jones who will play in the NFL, and he will no doubt put up numbers and points against Texas A&M. But Johnny Manziel is more than just a very good QB. Even as a freshman he’s become a transcendent player.
What happened with Texas A&M and Manziel was something that no one saw coming. It wasn’t supposed happen, but it did. And Manziel may not be the biggest QB that you’ll see, but the size of his heart is that of a giant, and he has the kind of awareness on a football field that the best players sometimes never attain.
Bob Stoops and the Sooners have had plenty of time to game plan for Manziel, and will probably do some things to confuse him some. And they’ll probably slow him down a little, but it won’t be enough. It should be close down the stretch, but the Aggies win. 35-28 Texas A&M
- Johnny Manziel: Will Heisman Trophy Winner Flop in 2013 Cotton Bowl vs Oklahoma? (bleacherreport.com)
- Football Roundtable: Can Oklahoma Slow Down Manziel in the Cotton Bowl? (throughthephog.com)
- Cotton Bowl 2013: Where’s the Love for Oklahoma QB Landry Jones? (bleacherreport.com)
- Accomplished Sooner Jones Stands Tall vs. Manziel or Anyone Else (sooner4ou.com)