- Sam Khan Jr., ESPN Staff Writer
What a difference a year makes.
No. 9 Texas A&M closed the book on an impressive season with a 41-13 rout of No. 11 Oklahoma on Friday in the AT&T Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
It is win No. 11 for the Aggies (11-2), the first time they've accomplished that feat since 1998, when they went 11-3. Let's look at the ups and downs of the night for Texas A&M:
1. Johnny Manziel and the offensive line: Heisman hangover? Not an ounce of one. What more can you say about the redshirt freshman quarterback? He crushed the previous record for most total yards by a player in the Cotton Bowl with 516, topping former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell's 407. He also accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing). He finished the season with 5,116 total yards and 47 total touchdowns. And helping him attain those incredible numbers was an offensive line that has two offensive tackles (Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews) who are potential first-round draft picks, a center (Patrick Lewis) that made it all go and a pair of guards (Jarvis Harrison, Cedric Ogbuehi) who showed a lot of improvement from the first game to the final one. The success goes hand-in-hand.
2. The defense: After allowing the first two Oklahoma drives to go 16 and 18 plays, respectively, the Aggies shut down the Sooners in the second half. They forced five punts and a turnover on downs in the first six drives of the second half. Also, senior cornerback Dustin Harris brought home the game's defensive MVP award after intercepting OU quarterback Landry Jones in the second quarter.
3. Clarence McKinney: Many wondered how the Aggies would fare with McKinney, the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, calling the plays in place of former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who accepted the Texas Tech head coaching job in December. McKinney has been with Sumlin and this offense since the latter's first year as a head coach at Houston in 2008. It showed. A former high school head coach at Houston Yates, McKinney has been a force on the recruiting trail and showed his abilities as a play-caller on Friday as the offense thrived. He could be a candidate for the vacant offensive coordinator job.
1. First-half penalties: The Aggies were called for six infractions to Oklahoma's one in the first two quarters. That changed and turned into a positive for the Aggies in the second half as Texas A&M committed just one penalty in the final two quarters to the Sooners' six.
2. Missed point after touchdown kick: Redshirt freshman kicker Taylor Bertolet missed a PAT try, his seventh this season, in the third quarter. He finished the season 13-of-22 overall on field goals and 67-of-74 on PATs.
3. Pass rush: The Aggies didn't sack Landry Jones until the second-to-last Oklahoma drive of the night and only hurried him three times. Some of it had to do with the fact that Jones gets passes out of his hand quickly and it ultimately didn't become a factor in the result.
13hSam Khan Jr.
4dSam Khan Jr.