November Won Johnny Manziel the 2012 Heisman, and It Can Again in 2013
Johnny Manziel's November reign continued in a 57-7 nonconference thrashing of UTEP on Saturday, setting him on the right path for a second Heisman Trophy.
The Texas A&M super-sophomore quarterback won college football's most prestigious individual award a year ago on the strength of his November play. In particular, his show-stopping performance in the Aggies' signature upset of Alabama launched Manziel into the national consciousness.
This year, Manziel already has an impressive showing against the Crimson Tide to his credit, dropping 562 yards of total offense and five touchdowns on them in Week 3. Of course, mid-September games don't win Heisman Trophies, no matter how impressive.
Fortunately for Manziel, he closes the 2013 campaign against LSU and Missouri, teams ranked No. 13 and No. 9 in the BCS standings.
He has the right momentum heading into those SEC showdowns, both of which are on the road, after taking care of business against an inferior opponent.
"It’s good for him, he’s always been capable of that," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said in his postgame press conference, per AggieAthletics.com. "With him not practicing until Friday before the game, there was a different game plan for him."
Manziel is nursing an arm injury, lingering the last few weeks against both Auburn and Vanderbilt. If the game plan did indeed change Saturday, neither it nor the apparent malady did anything to hamper Manziel's production.
UTEP served its purpose as the ubiquitous late-season body-bag foe. Nearly every SEC program has one: a non-BCS conference or Football Championship Subdivision team that rolls into town for a sizable paycheck and equally sizable beating.
It took some settling in for the Aggies, which trailed 7-2 at one point in the first quarter. The audacity of the Miners to take a lead on Texas A&M sent Manziel into his proverbial phone booth, and out emerged dual-threat superhero Johnny Football.
Manziel dumped four passing touchdowns and 273 yards, as well as 67 rushing yards and two scores, against the hapless Miners defense. Saturday was the latest installment of a sophomore season that statistically transcends his historic Heisman run.
Missouri helped solidify that Heisman resume a season ago. Manziel bombarded the Tigers with five total touchdowns. However, this is obviously a much different bunch than the Missouri squad that finished last year 5-7.
Missouri is allowing just 20.7 points per game after its rout of Tennessee on Saturday, and the Tigers forced the best quarterback they've seen thus far, Georgia's Aaron Murray, into two turnovers.
Meanwhile, LSU stifled Manziel in an October 2012 showdown that remains undeniably the worst performance of the star's collegiate career.
Manziel threw three interceptions and didn't reach the end zone in the Aggies' 24-19 loss last year. LSU lost a host of professional-caliber talent from that defense, but that defense remains one of the nation's stingiest.
Going into the appropriately named "Death Valley," Manziel faces a particularly daunting detour on the road back to New York.
All Manziel can do is continue to produce. His team's BCS bowl aspirations hinge on his performance, as well as another date with history.
Heisman winners are made in November. No one knows that better than Manziel.
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