It’s the second-to-final weekend of the SEC regular season. Johnny Manziel’s Texas A&M team will enter Tiger Stadium for a 2:30 central, nationally televised matchup with LSU. Three months ago, who would have guessed that the game would not have any impact on the SEC Championship or BCS title?
Texas A&M has represented itself very well in its second season in the SEC, but it has not garnered the attention that its 2012 campaign did. The partial reason for this is the timing of the Aggies’ two losses. Alabama rolled into College Station on September 14th for a huge, nationally relevant showdown. The Tide won and kept rolling, while Texas A&M was all but forgotten by the college football world.
The Aggies were still hanging around as a one-loss contender until mid-October when Auburn spoiled that. In what was Auburn’s formal declaration that they were a force to be reckoned with this year, Manziel was knocked out of the game late, which gave the Tigers the ball and the opportunity to win. If A&M wasn’t completely discarded after the Alabama loss, the Auburn loss sealed it.
Since A&M was put out of the national conversation, star quarterback Johnny Manziel’s Heisman repeat effort began to suffer. This is despite the fact that he is putting up better numbers than he was a year ago. In addition, he’s not getting much help from the Aggie defense, which is not has talented or effective as it was in 2012.
The Heisman discussion has taken several interesting twists this year. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was seemingly the front-runner coming into November. But with his team’s loss to Stanford earlier this month, he has dropped from the top of many lists.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston assumed Mariota’s spot as the lead candidate. As of these last two weeks, though, he has been engulfed in serious allegations that have placed his candidacy in serious jeopardy.
Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty is involved in the race, but he needs to win the remainder of his games and get some help to claim the award.
And Alabama’s AJ McCarron has had another solid year, but at best, he only has an outside shot at receiving the Heisman.
This reopens the door for Manziel, who has two important stages remaining. With successful outcomes, he can win himself a second Heisman Trophy. The two games, which are trips to LSU and Missouri, would go a long way with voters.
Manziel’s worst performance of his Texas A&M career came against LSU in 2012. And while he has yet to play in the intimidating atmosphere that Tiger Stadium provides, I have to think he will be looking to avenge that Saturday. Still, even in his worst statistical performance, he threw for 276 yards. The guy is truly phenomenal.
Another thing that bodes well for Manziel in these last two games is the success the Aggies have had on the road in the SEC. They are 9-0 in SEC games away from Kyle Field since joining the league.
We won’t see Texas A&M in Pasadena on the biggest stage in January, but we will definitely see Johnny Football on the stage at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York. If he puts on a show in Baton Rouge and Columbia, he will be hoisting a large chunk of bronze while there.