Johnny Manziel, suspended for the first half of Texas A&M's season opener against Rice, was supposed to enter an already-lopsided game when he took the field in the third quarter.
But the Owls didn't roll over.
The Aggies had six defensive starters on the bench in the first half, all serving at least two-quarter suspensions like Manziel. That helped contribute, in part, to a surprisingly close 28-21 halftime score, at which point Johnny Football came trotting onto the field.
During the first half, after Rice raced to 7-0 and 14-7 leads, Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk wondered (sarcastically) if A&M would consider subbing him in during the first half:
B/R NFL writer Mike Freeman, on the other hand, speculated as to how Manziel was spending his time during the suspension:
Business Insider's Cork Gaines took a screen capture of how Manziel started his suspension: with a trademarked and unabashed "Tebow":
And NFL.com's Joe Fortenbaugh got a halftime update from Vegas, which posted A&M as 18.5-point favorites in the second half.
A&M bettors could find a discount at offshore books, which listed the Aggies at minus-17.
Finally, it was time for the second half to kick off, and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner got to take the field and start his defense of that title.
CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel, who was in attendance, took note of how anxious he looked before things got started:
Rice controlled the ball first, and promptly turned it over. Texas A&M took over in opposing territory, and on Manziel's first snap, he scrambled out of trouble for a first down:
But eventually the drive fizzled out, and A&M settled for a field goal, which prompted B/R's Adam Kramer to get ready for a much-needed overreaction column:
And his sarcasm was a popular reaction among college football writers:
The Aggies got the ball back with good field position again, and this time they found much more success. Manziel threw a nice touchdown to favorite target Mike Evans on a crossing route.
Fox Sports' Clay Travis implored him to sign the ball and throw it in the crowd Terrell Owens-style, which would have been the funniest thing ever:
And according to ESPN's Skip Bayless, he got into some signature-related smack talk after the throw:
But everything Skip says should be taken with a grain of salt, so it was a blessing when Rivals writer Justin Hokanson found and posted a confirming Vine:
Rice marched down the field on a long, momentum-killing drive after that touchdown, cutting the lead back to 10. A bad decision on the kick return left A&M starting inside its own 10-yard line, at which point Manziel was back on the clock.
And it didn't take long for him to make an impact.
The Aggies marched 93 yards in six plays, highlighted by a 35-yard pass from Manziel to Malcome Kennedy, and an 18-yard swing-pass touchdown from Manziel to running back Ben Malena.
CBS Sports' Gregg Doyel had an update on Manziel's early season box score:
ESPN scouting expert Todd McShay lauded his confidence in the pocket:
And Skip Bayless, upset after the Patriots cut Tim Tebow, hitched his wagon to another divisive signal-caller:
When Texas A&M got the ball back, it was more of the same. But after a quick Aggies touchdown, Johnny football got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting the Rice players:
B/R's Barrett Sallee laughed at Manziel's heel turn, noting how he did the classic "SCOREBOARD" taunt—straight from the schoolyard:
Kevin Sumlin yelled at Manziel on the sideline, prompting a very apt Friday Night Lights reference from B/R's T.J. McAloon:
And as Manziel's afternoon came to an end (on an interesting note), Pac-12 Network's Bryan Fischer said what we were all thinking:
Manziel finished the day with 98 yards on 6-of-8 passing, three touchdowns through the air and 19 yards on six carries.
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