When the 2013 Cotton Bowl takes place tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX, many will have their eyes glued on the Heisman winner in Johnny Manziel. Never mind the freshman sensation for just a minute and start paying attention to senior quarterback Landry Jones.
Jones, the quarterback that was lighting the scoreboard up for Oklahoma when Manziel was still in high school, will show the Aggies first-year starter who the real boss is. Well, at least for one night he will.
Manziel has shown the college football world that he is the real deal, but Jones will be playing his last collegiate game of his career and will steal the stage for one last time.
Here is why the Oklahoma starting quarterback will outplay the Heisman winner in the Cotton Bowl.
He Shouldn't Be Needed Much
Manziel is more than just a running quarterback. He threw the ball 400 times this season and completed a little more than 68 percent of his attempts. The amount of passes thrown was good for 40th in the country and the third most among SEC quarterbacks. With that said, his services won't be needed much in this game.
Oklahoma has a run-defense that was eighth worst in the Big 12, as it has allowed 181 yards on the ground. There were six teams that rushed for more than 200 yards against the Sooners this season and they have allowed 23 rushing touchdowns on the year. This is not your typical Oklahoma defense that you are used to seeing in years past, as this unit has been run over nearly every week.
Manziel will continue to be the heart of this offense, but running backs such as Ben Malena and Christine Michael should see plenty of carries. With a terrific offensive line paving the way, the Aggies could end up rushing for well over 250 yards in this game, taking away some of Manziel and his playmaking ability.
We know that the Heisman winner is capable of taking over a game and leading his team to victory. The good news is that he won't have to do everything in this matchup for his team to win.
Aggies Haven't Been Great in Pass Coverage
If the Texas A&M coaching staff decides to try and open up the passing game for Manziel, he will be going up against a Top 25 pass defense of Oklahoma. While the Sooners run defense has been laughable throughout the year, they have only allowed nine passing touchdowns and only three teams have topped 250 yards in the air against them.
We can't really say the same thing when it comes to the Aggies pass coverage this season, as it is 11th best in the SEC and ranked 83rd in college football. There have been 28 plays given up that have gone for more than 25 yards, and teams such as Louisiana Tech and Alabama absolutely had its way with them.
Those numbers can't be good when facing a fast-paced offense such as Oklahoma that likes to spread you out and hit you over the top with the big play. Wide receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown are going to be tough covers, and have had this Aggie defense quite concerned.
Just checkout what Texas A&M defensive tackle Spencer Nealy said about facing this Sooners offense, according to Tobi Neidy of The Oklahoma Daily.
“I’m eating a lot less this week because Oklahoma is so quick,” Nealy said. “I have to be able to catch up to their speed.”
Of course, he said this in a joking manner, but this is an offense that can put up points in a hurry and it all starts with its senior quarterback. Big numbers should be expected from Jones and the Oklahoma offense tonight.
Who will have the better game?
This factor simply comes down to belief. You either believe in jinxes and curses, or you don't. However, there is something fishy that has been going on with Heisman winners. Now this may not be as powerful as the Sports Illustrated cover jinx or the Madden curse, but it does have a solid string of bad luck.
While you would probably expect a solid bowl record from Heisman winners, the truth is that the guys who have won the award since the BCS era have produced a combined 7-7 record in bowl games. What makes things a little freakier for Manziel is that all-time Heisman winners are a combined 3-4 when playing in the Cotton Bowl.
Regardless of how Manziel is used in this game, he will obviously have to play well for the Aggies to win. However, it appears that history is not on his side when his team takes the field later tonight.
Note: All stats come from cfbstats.com unless otherwise noted.