Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M and the SEC's Biggest Surprises of 2012
The SEC has had its fair share of surprises this season, including the breakout play of a kid known as Johnny Football.
What's more surprising is the fact that the SEC is evolving with the induction of new teams, new faces and even a new offense. Some teams have dropped the ball in 2012, while others have risen from the ashes.
Check out the SEC's biggest surprises of 2012 and see why the Texas A&M Aggies have come a long way from their days in the Big 12.
Auburn Hits Rock Bottom
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Coming off a 2010 national championship, the Auburn Tigers have fallen into a disastrous slump of sorts that has hit rock bottom in 2012.
The Tigers are currently 3-8 with the potential to finish the season 3-9 as they head to Bryant-Denny Stadium to face No. 4 Alabama next Saturday. The team has performed so poorly that even Gene Chizik is facing the ax at the end of the season.
While it's no surprise that Auburn would struggle this season, the severity of the team's performances has been shocking, to say the least.
Chizik's squad has won just three games against Alabama A&M and New Mexico State, as well as an OT victory over Louisiana-Monroe, in which the Tigers narrowly escaped a loss with a game-winning FG.
On top of that, a good chunk of Auburn's losses have been by blowout margins, causing a once-devoted fanbase to leave their team hanging before the final whistle.
Ole Miss Improves After Two-Win Season in 2011
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In 2011, the Ole Miss Rebels won just two games against Southern Illinois and Fresno State. It was time for a new direction and a new face of the program. Enter new head coach Hugh Freeze and the Rebels are on the rise again.
In Freeze's first season as head coach, the Rebels are sitting at 5-6 with the opportunity to play in a bowl game after the regular season. ESPN is currently projecting Ole Miss to land a spot in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
The Rebels have fought hard all season despite a subpar record. Against Texas A&M and LSU, Ole Miss nearly pulled off the upsets, losing by a margin of three and six points, respectively. Not bad considering how last season went.
Johnny Manziel Named Starter After Summer Arrest
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The likelihood of Johnny Manziel being named the starter for Texas A&M at the start of the season wasn't good after he was arrested Jun. 29 for being involved in a physical altercation.
The freshman quarterback won the starting job nonetheless and proceeded to take the college football world by storm with the help of head coach Kevin Sumlin.
Manziel, or Johnny Football as he's known in the media, has had an unbelievable season, to say the least, propelling him into Heisman talks with the likes of Kansas State's Collin Klein and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o.
Utilizing his dual-threat capability, Manziel has managed to rack up more than 2,700 yards through the air and over 1,000 yards on the ground. This past week, against Sam Houston State, Manziel finished the day with three TD passes for 267 yards and two rushing TDs for 100 yards.
From the looks of it, the sky is the limit for Manziel's career.
Texas A&M Flourishing in 2012
The Texas A&M football program underwent some big changes this season consisting of a move to the SEC and the hiring of former University of Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin.
New changes usually take time getting used to, but the Aggies wasted no time establishing their dominance this season as they've cruised to a 9-2 record overall and a 5-2 record in the conference. With the help of Sumlin's spread offense and the play of Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M has risen toward the top of the BCS standings.
It appears as though a new era may be beginning at Texas A&M with Sumlin on the throne.
Spread Offense Successful in SEC
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With the induction of Texas A&M and Missouri into the SEC, many questioned whether the spread offense would prevail in a run-first conference. Considering how successful Kevin Sumlin's spread offense has performed this season, I think it's safe to say that the SEC has room for the spread after all.
The Aggies currently have the top-ranked offense in the SEC, averaging a little over 545 yards a game and 43.1 points per game.
A lot of credit has to go to Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel for how well the spread has fared against SEC opponents this season, but he's certainly benefited from the spread as a player as well.