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SMITH COLUMN: People learned about Manziel during season

January 6, 2013


It's amazing to consider that Texas A&M went into the season in August not knowing who the starting quarterback was going to be.

At that time, nobody knew what Johnny Manziel could do.

Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin decided to give Manziel a chance and that seemed to work out pretty well.

After winning the Heisman Trophy in December, Manziel had 516 yards of total offense with two rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns to lead Texas A&M to a 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl Friday night.

There aren't many people, even those who pay attention to football just a little bit, who don't know Manziel now.

Manziel had 229 yards rushing on 17 carries and completed 22 of 34 pass attempts for 287 yards against the Sooners.

He set a Southeastern Conference regular season record with 4,600 total yards. He became the fourth Bowl Championship Series quarterback to have both 20 touchdowns passing and rushing.

That performance capped one of the greatest seasons for not only a freshman, but any player in SEC history.

If anyone had any doubts or questions about how the Aggies would fare in their first season in the league, Manziel made sure things kept moving in a positive direction.

Manziel helped the Texas A&M offense to 7,261 total yards with 633 of those coming in the Cotton Bowl.

"It's one of the teams I thought in the country that got better every week," Sumlin said.

The Aggies came to the rescue of the SEC in what has turned out to be a an up and down bowl season to this point.

Vanderbilt got the conference off on the right note on New Year's Eve by defeating North Carolina State 38-24 at the Music City Bowl, but LSU stumbled to Clemson 25-24 later in the day at the Chik-fil-A Bowl.

On New Year's Day, Mississippi State dropped a 34-20 decision to Northwestern, while Georgia and South Carolina struggled at times before pulling out victories in its bowl games. Georgia beat Nebraska 45-31 in the Outback Bowl, while South Carolina edged Michigan 33-28 in the Capital One Bowl. Those were three matchups between the SEC and Big 10 that turned out to be very competitive.

Louisville made Florida look very ordinary and beat the Gators 33-23 on Jan. 2, but the SEC has bounced back nicely so far this weekend with wins by Texas A&M 41-13 over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl and by Ole Miss 38-17 over Pittsburgh in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Saturday.

That gives the SEC a 5-3 record through eight bowl games, so the league is guaranteed to finish above .500.

Of course the big one for the SEC comes Monday night when Alabama goes for the conference's seventh-straight national championship against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game.

If the Crimson Tide can pull that off, and they are favored to do so, that will be enough of a measuring stick to prove the SEC still rules.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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