Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel is one of the top contenders for college football’s most prestigious award again in 2013, and he showed why he will go down in history as one of the game’s most dynamic players.
But it was not enough as the Auburn Tigers defeated Texas A&M 45-41.
Manziel’s 454 passing yards and 70 rushing yards were all the more impressive given a late in the game shoulder injury that seemed as though it would put him out of the game. His return sparked the Aggies, but Gus Malzahn’s rejuvenated Auburn program proved to be too much in College Station.
Throughout the contest, the teams were largely neck and neck until Texas A&M pulled ten points ahead midway through the second half. With Manziel’s injury, however, the Tigers found new hope and capitalized. Still, Johnny Football brought the team to the brink of their second last minute comeback in as many weeks until he was sacked on fourth and long by senior Auburn defensive end Dee Ford.
The win, which makes the Auburn team bowl eligible at 6-1, marks one of the more drastic improvements in recent memory for the school. Auburn was 3-9 a year ago, winless in the SEC, and was routed by the Aggies in Auburn 63-21, barely putting up a fight.
Now, Auburn finds themselves with an outside shot to win the SEC West with the Malzahn regime leading to a more physical, confident, and high-powered Tigers team.
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall, who missed several key throws, was still the key for the Tigers’s offense. He finished with 236 passing yards, 100 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns. Running back Tre Mason was the leader of the Tigers’s rushing attack by running for 178 of Auburn’s 379 rushing yards.
Defensively, Auburn gave up a lot of points, but their defensive line, led by Ford with help from others like Breitbart Sports #1 high school recruit from the Class of 2013–Carl Lawson.
While Manziel will always be the most talked about Aggie, his performance can largely be attributed to the utter dominance of receiver Mike Evans. The 6’5″ playmaker hauled in 11 catches for 287 yards and 4 touchdowns. A future NFL star, Evans looked like he could not be covered by the Auburn defensive backs.
The loss for Texas A&M officially knocks the team out of the national title chase and likely out of contention for the SEC West.
For Auburn, Gus Malzahn’s promised “New Day” has arrived sooner than anyone could have imagined. The Tigers face Florida Atlantic Saturday before a four game run of SEC teams including Arkansas, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. At this point, the speculation would have to be that Auburn will enter each of those games, with the exception of Alabama, as the favorite.