Ten-win season sealed with 59-29 blowout
Published: Sunday, November 25, 2012
Updated: Sunday, November 25, 2012 23:11
The expectations entering A&M’s inaugural season with the Southeastern Conference were never high. For months, critics from around the country guaranteed failure or, at best, mediocrity for a program matching wits against the premier college football league in the nation.
At the SEC Media Days, vicious reporters bombarded first-year head coach Kevin Sumlin with questions regarding his unproven offense, a thin defensive front and an unsolved quarterback controversy. Hope was a rare commodity in College Station everywhere except the Bright football complex, where young athletes found themselves buying into an unknown system.
One regular season later, that hope was rewarded as the Aggies, in front of 87,222, downed former Big 12 foe Missouri, 59-29. The victory capped the program’s first ten-win season since 1998 — the year of its lone Big 12 Championship — and further propelled A&M toward national prominence.
“I think that beforehand, it was really just guys having faith — belief without proof,” Sumlin said. “Now, if you’re a young player in the program, you understand the process and that makes sense because of your rewards and, if you’re a young prospect out there, you understand that we’ve got a great University, we’ve got a great game day experience and we’re in probably the best league in the country and you can come to Texas A&M and win.”
Johnny Manziel continued his quest to impress Heisman voters Saturday evening, racking up 372 yards and three touchdowns through the air while adding 67 yards on 12 carries with two scores on the ground.
Statistically, Manziel finished the regular season with 4,600 yards of total offense through only 12 games, surpassing the SEC record set by Heisman winner and former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton who generated 4,327 yards through 14 games in 2010.
Despite a freshman never having won the coveted Heisman trophy, which is awarded annually to college football’s most outstanding player, Manziel has seemingly taken the sport by storm. With his slew of broken records and defining victory over then No. 1 Alabama, the young quarterback’s resume holds its own against the nation’s other top athletes.
At the very least, Manziel has earned a few votes from his own teammates.
“Johnny is the most exciting player in the world,” senior defensive tackle Spencer Nealy said. “‘Heismanziel’ is pretty catchy. Johnny deserves it and he has competed consistently. He’s an incredible player and a good guy too.”
The heavily-favored Aggies opened fire early on the Tigers, jumping to a 14-point lead from two short runs by senior Christine Michael and junior Ben Malena. Halfway through the third drive, however, Manziel writhed in pain following a seven-yard scramble, silencing the 12th Man.
On the initial play of Manziel’s absence, Michael added another score on a 38-yard dash.
“Johnny Football,” knee-brace laden, returned only three offensive plays later, throwing touchdown passes to seniors Ryan Swope and Uzoma Nwachukwu and redshirt freshman Mike Evans to end the half, lifting A&M to a 42-0 lead.
The remainder of the matchup featured Manziel’s two rushing scores and a deep 52-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet, sealing the win on Senior Night for a much deserving senior class.
“The type of season we had last year was just a nightmare of a season,” senior center Patrick Lewis said. “This is a new team and we had high expectations. We expect to win every game, even when people didn’t really give us a chance. People in the fan base, people in the school believed in us and that’s what it’s all about.”