By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State was snowed under on Saturday.
No. 16 Texas A&M, led by redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, assaulted No. 17 Mississippi State and left Davis Wade Stadium with a 38-13 win on Saturday.
MSU (7-2, 3-2 SEC) wore all white uniforms to commemorate its 2000 Independence Bowl win over Texas A&M, which has been dubbed the “Snow Bowl” because it was played in a snowstorm.
This one was a whitewash by the second quarter, as the Aggies (7-2, 4-2) took a quick 21-0 lead and then opened up a 31-0 advantage early in the third quarter.
“That was as bad a performance as we’ve had here in quite a long time,” fourth-year MSU head coach Dan Mullen said, and there are plenty of numbers to back that up.
The Aggies gained 693 total yards, the most yards allowed by an MSU team since South Carolina totaled 652 during the 1995 season. Manziel was 30 of 36 for 311 yards, and the SEC’s leading rusher added 129 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
Manziel, whose nickname is “Johnny Football,” was as elusive as a shadow. He was a big reason Texas A&M converted its first six third downs and finished the game 9 of 16 in that category.
JOHNNY BE GOOD
“Johnny has the green light to take off when he wants,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. “He was able to do some great things with his feet this game, especially on third downs.”
Was Manziel just too much athlete for MSU?
“Sometimes he wasn’t, so obviously not,” Mullen said.
Manziel certainly had good help. Texas A&M had nine plays of 20 yards or longer, and eight of those came over the first three quarters.
Manziel’s 23-yard run helped set up Ben Malena’s 1-yard touchdown run to make it 31-0 early in the third quarter. Malena had 112 yards rushing and Christine Michael added 50 yards and two scores.
Sumlin is now 2-1 against MSU, having split a pair of games when he was head coach at Houston. This is his first year at Texas A&M, and his up-tempo spread offense has been an immediate hit.
Saturday was the fifth time this season the Aggies have gained more than 600 yards of offense. MSU helped the cause with poor tackling, and the defensive line had trouble getting any pressure on Manziel.
And MSU was again gashed in the run game, much as it was by Troy and Tennessee earlier this season.
“Trying to keep (Manziel) contained and cover receivers, kind of in a dilemma,” linebacker Cam Lawrence said. “But we just have to execute. I felt we played real sloppy, several missed tackles. It’s just reoccurring.”
Like Alabama did the week before against MSU, Texas A&M came out hot and scored touchdowns on its first three possessions. It was immediately apparent that the Bulldogs were going to have trouble with Manziel, who passed for 38 yards and rushed for 26 on the opening possession.
He later reeled off a 37-yard TD run, finding a giant patch of open turf to his right and weaving in for a 21-0 lead at the 11:51 mark of the second quarter.
By halftime, A&M had 386 total yards, with Manziel gaining 82 on the ground. MSU had just 87 yards, and the offense had little success outside the running of LaDarius Perkins.
MSU reached the red zone following A&M’s third TD, but it couldn’t convert a fourth-and-3 from the 11-yard line. Tyler Russell’s pass sailed out of the end zone, and he took a hard hit from lineman Julien Obioha.
“They brought a blitz, the clock was running down and I didn’t have time to re-direct the protection,” Russell said. “I had to get it out quick and couldn’t find anybody.”
Russell completed 19 of 30 passes for 212 yards and an interception. He finally got MSU on the board with a 14-yard strike to Chad Bumphis in the third quarter.
MSU finished with 310 total yards. Perkins rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries. Arceto Clark led the receivers with 64 yards on five catches.