For His Next Trick, Johnny Manziel Will Try to Will A&M to an 11-1 Record
"For us, this wasn't the end of our season. This wasn't the Super Bowl. This wasn't the last game of the season. Alabama lost a game last year and still went on to win the national championship, they lost to LSU the year before and still went on to go to the national championship. Our season isn't over, anything can happen. This is college football." --Johnny Manziel, post game press conference Saturday night
Photos by Sean Pendergast This 95-yard bomb to Mike Evans from his own end zone wasn't enough for Johnny Football.
I heard Johnny Manziel say these words after the game on Saturday afternoon, a highly entertaining 49-42 Alabama win, and my gut reaction was skepticism.
After a game where the Aggies' opponent (albeit the number one team in the country) spent the entire second and third quarters carving up the A&M defense and eventually ending up with 568 yards, and outscoring them 42-7 during the decisive minutes?
After a game in which the entire A&M community invested unconditional emotion for the last nine months? I mean, when your program hasn't been on a stage like this maybe ever, and it's over and it ends like it did on Saturday, where do you go from here? How do you pick up the pieces?
Hearing Johnny Manziel's postgame words, I wanted to disagree with him. I wanted to think that we would look back at the Aggies' jumping out to a 14-0 lead on Alabama as the "this is as good as we will ever look" moment for this quarterback/head coach combination.
But the fact of the matter is that there is enough magic in the legs and arms of the redshirt sophomore from Kerrville to think that anything can still happen.
Johnny Manziel's right. This is college football.
Before we get into the specific dynamics of this A&M team, consider the ebb and flow of the schedule the rest of the way. A&M may not completely control its own destiny, but the momentum of what will occur in front of them along with the opportunities on their own plate make it a decent mathematical likelihood that an 11-1 Aggie squad could somehow find its way to the BCS National Title game.
#4 Clemson and #8 Florida State play each other in October. #2 Oregon and #5 Stanford play each other in November. #1 Alabama and #7 LSU play each other in November, as well. A&M themselves play #7 LSU on November 23. An 11-1 A&M team would almost assuredly leap frog an undefeated Louisville. Texas A&M will likely be favored in every game the rest of the way except the trip to Baton Rouge.
In short, because they lost early in the season and lost close to the number one team in the country, the math still works for Texas A&M in the rankings and on the schedule. Unfortunately, there's that small issue of the math in the defensive portion of the NCAA statistics page.
With the Aggie defense as inconsistent and unreliable as it is right now, it's a virtual certainty Kevin Sumlin's squad will find themselves in a couple "whoever has the ball last" shootouts against one or two (or more) of these underdogs, which is a dangerous way to live as a favorite.
(For the record, I'd pencil in back to back weeks in mid-October as the likeliest shootout candidates with a trip to suddenly-for-real Ole Miss and a visit from suddenly-rejuvenated-by-Gus Malzahn Auburn in back to back weeks.)