Manziel destroys, Florida survives, Vols outlast; more Snap Judgments
Johnny Manziel totaled 440 yards in No. 16 Texas A&M's rout of No. 17 Miss. St.
James Franklin's four INTs cost Missouri a big upset victory against No. 8 Florida
Teddy Bridgewater dominated Temple, but how will Louisville do vs. better teams?
No. 16 Texas A&M 38, No. 17 Mississippi State 13: Johnny Manziel may be the only 19 year old who can pull off a Scooby Doo costume and then rip up a top-20 defense the ensuing Saturday.
Outkick the Coverage posted several photos of enthused co-eds posing for pictures with the redshirt freshman sensation, who was dressed in a poofy dog costume. Two days later Manziel not only solved, but intimidated, a Mississippi State side that debuted snazzy white uniforms and dressed its fans in matching white T-shirts.
The whiteout paid homage to the 2000 Independence Bowl, a clash Mississippi State pulled out over the Aggies 43-41 on a snowy New Year's Eve in Shreveport, the last time these two teams played against each other. Saturday, the 80-degree sun-drenched weather didn't help the ambiance, but it's unlikely any atmosphere would have slowed Manziel anyway.
Manziel played like he could have quarterbacked the game in his Halloween costume, though he was more Scrappy than Scooby. And after the rout, Johnny Football and offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury are bidding for the coolest player-coach duo in the nation. Their product is one of the most efficient, exciting offenses in the FBS. In two consecutive road games, Manziel has commandeered scoring drives on 13 of his last 18 offensive possessions for a combined 101 points. Saturday, Manziel finished 30-of-36 for 311 yards and ran for 129 more yards and two touchdowns.
As for Kingsbury? The former Texas Tech gunslinger dialed up a creative, balanced and speedy attack. And he did it behind a sweet pair of wayfarers and a snug-fitting long-sleeve T-shirt. A former Mike Leach quarterback, a Dana Holgerson colleague and an understudy of head coach Kevin Sumlin (Kingsbury followed Sumlin from Houston to A&M), Kingsbury's offense flummoxed the Bulldog defense in the first half and most of the second.
When Mississippi State played man defense, Kingsbury turned Manziel loose (see Manziel's 37-yard touchdown run). When the Bulldogs tried to use zone against the Aggies, Kingsbury went over the middle or called draw plays for Ben Malena or Christine Michael (see Michael's 22-yard scamper). Everything Kingsbury called worked, and it started with the job done by the offensive line.
Manziel, Michael and Malena burn up the highlight film, but the monstrous, veteran offensive line expertly protected them. Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews are regarded as potential first-round picks in the 2013 NFL Draft, and center Patrick Lewis (who has started 43 consecutive games) is one of the keys to the Aggies' offensive tempo.
Also aiding Texas A&M's attack was wide receiver Ryan Swope, who caught nine balls for 121 yards and delivered some open-field punishment.
Mississippi State looked deflated early and didn't start to appear competitive until it was already down 31-0. Dan Mullen will probably remain one of the hotter coaching prospects in the country, but back-to-back blowout losses won't help his cause. Running back LaDarius Perkins ran hard and linebacker Cameron Lawrence played admirably, but the Bulldogs were overmatched all afternoon. [RECAP | BOX]
No. 8 Florida 14, Missouri 7: James Franklin overthrew any chances the Tigers had to log their first major SEC victory (they did beat Kentucky last week). Florida looked injured and dysfunctional, so much so that ESPN's Rece Davis called the Gators' product "old-man football" on three different occasions. Playing one of the weakest teams in the SEC, Florida did not take a lead until the fourth quarter.
The Tigers' defense effectively pressured Jeff Driskel all afternoon, but Missouri's rocky and inconsistent offense mooted an otherwise gutty defensive performance. Mizzou was better running the football for a large chunk of the game (in the third quarter, the Tigers had doubled the Gators' yards per carry) but Florida eventually broke off the biggest plays: a 36-yard touchdown run by Omarius Hines and a 45-yard touchdown reception by the speedy Mike Gillislee.
Franklin played well enough on his own side of the field, but two critical overthrows resulted in interceptions. A quarterback that was surrounded with fanfare entering the SEC, Franklin has not looked comfortable at all this season.
No. 12 Louisville 45, Temple 17: Temple returned a kickoff for a touchdown and took two first-quarter leads, but Teddy Bridgewater (five touchdowns) found big seams in the Owls' defense and anchored a comfortable 45-17 victory. The Cardinals responded strongly after a scare in a stormy affair against Cincinnati. Now, Louisville will look to clinch a Big East title, which would give fans a chance to see Bridgewater against better competition. [RECAP | BOX]
Arkansas 19, Tulsa 15: The forgotten Razorbacks have won three of their last four and stuffed a high-flying 7-2 Tulsa squad. With three games remaining against South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU, though, John L. Smith's team will be hard-pressed to end this morose season with a bowl berth. [RECAP | BOX]