DALLAS — In what’s been an unprecedented season for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, no stage has proven too big for the Heisman Trophy-winning freshman.
The stages only promise to get bigger.
Manziel shattered a host of records as the No. 9 Aggies blitzed No. 11 Oklahoma 41-13 Friday night in AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium.
Texas A&M broke up a tight matchup of former Big 12 rivals with a 20-point third quarter, improving to 11-2 after its first season in the Southeastern Conference. It’s only the fourth 11-win season in school history.
Manziel, known nationally as Johnny Football, broke the Cotton Bowl record for total yards (516) and the all-time bowl record for rushing yards by a quarterback (229). The 20-year-old dynamo accounted for four touchdowns — two rushing and two passing — as the Aggies racked up a Cotton Bowl-record 633 total yards.
The Sooners, co-champions in the Big 12, finished the season 10-3 and had won five in row before running into the A&M buzzsaw. Senior quarterback Landry Jones had 278 yards passing for Oklahoma, which was seeking a school record fourth straight bowl win.
Manziel and the Aggies became a sensation after upsetting defending national champion Alabama on the road on Nov. 10. Texas A&M takes six-game winning streak into next season, will likely open in the Top 10 and be part of the conversation as a championship contender.
If Manziel’s performance this season is any indication, the Aggies will be up to the task.
The Sooners routinely had their way with Texas A&M as conference mates. But after an even first half, the Manziel and Co. blew the game open in the third quarter.
The Aggies forced Oklahoma’s first three punts of the game on its first three possessions of the second half. All three stops were turned into touchdowns, as Texas A&M opened up a 34-13 lead.
Manziel hit a several big passes on the first drive, which covered 91 yards. Running back Ben Malena scored on a 7-yard option pitch. The Aggies then went 89 yards, with freshman running back Trey Williams breaking several tackles on a 30-yard score.
After the third punt, Manziel and receiver Ryan Swope (104 yards receiving) connected on a short completion on fourth down that became a 33-yard touchdown.
Texas A&M took a 14-13 lead into halftime behind two touchdowns and 113 yards from Manziel. Jones threw for 175 yards and a touchdown, setting a Cotton Bowl first-half record with 23 completions.
Oklahoma was able to run 51 plays in the first half for 249 yards and convert 7-of-9 third downs. The Aggies had 258 yards and made 5-of-8 third downs.
Manziel, as he’s done all season, led the Aggies to a touchdown on their first drive. The 75-yard march featured seven runs for 71 yards, including third-down scrambles from Manziel of 24 and 23 yards.
The latter was a tip-toe job along the sideline that carried Manziel into the end zone. The Aggies have scored a touchdown on the opening drive in 10 straight games and have scored first overall in 18 consecutive games dating back to 2011.
The Sooners drove right down the field on their first drive behind Jones’ precision passing game. At the Texas A&M 1, though, Oklahoma stalled. A run by designated goal line quarterback Blake Bell on second down was stuffed. Bell’s third-down rollout fell incomplete.
The Sooners were going for it on 4th down, but a false start forced a field goal. Michael Hunnicutt drilled a 23-yarder to cut the Aggies’ lead to 7-3.
Manziel came out throwing on second drive, but Aggies had to punt. Oklahoma, taking over on its 6, nearly went the distance with a mammoth 18-play drive that again took it inside the Texas A&M 10.
The Sooners converted three third downs in a row along the way before Texas A&M finally held. Hunnicutt’s 24-yard field pulled OU within 7-6 with 11:41 left in the second quarter.
The first turnover of the game cost the Aggies a chance to build on their lead. Manziel had A&M at the OU 5, thanks in part to a 44-yard run, but his third down pass bounced off the hands of receiver Malcome Kennedy and into the arms of Oklahoma safety Javon Harris.
The Aggies got the ball back on the Sooners’ ensuing possession, as cornerback Dustin Harris picked off Jones and returned it 22 yards. Three plays and 48 seconds later, Texas A&M was up 14-6.
An end-around pass from receiver Kenric McNeal to receiver Mike Evans for 20 yards got it started. Manziel finished it with an easy 5-yard jaunt for a touchdown.
Jones finished out the first half scoring by capping a 13-play march with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Justin Brown on third down with 1:16 left in the second quarter.
NOTES: Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel joined Cam Newton, Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick as the only players in FBS history with at least 20 touchdowns rushing and 20 touchdowns passing in the same season. … Oklahoma’s 18-play drive in the second quarter was the longest in Cotton Bowl history resulting in a field goal. … A&M is the first SEC team with more than 7,000 yards in total offense in a single season. … Oklahoma leads the series with A&M 19-12. … The Aggies’ all-time bowl record is 15-19, including 5-8 in the Cotton Bowl. … The Sooners are 27-18-1 in bowls and 1-1 in the Cotton Bowl. … The announced crowd of 87,025 was the second-largest in Cotton Bowl history.