By Steven Evans
For the fourth consecutive weekend, the SEC schedule features a contest pitting two top-10 ranked teams when No. 9 South Carolina travels to take on the third-ranked Florida Gators in an SEC East clash. But leave it to Johnny Football to steal the spotlight from Steve Spurrier’s return to The Swamp.
Texas A&M’s freshman superstar quarterback Johnny Manziel continues his assault on the SEC record books and enters Saturday morning’s tilt against the sixth-ranked LSU Tigers as the reigning Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week after accounting for six touchdowns and 576 yards of total offense in A&M’s 59-57 win over Louisiana Tech. Manziel passed for 395 yards on 24-of-40 passing, including three touchdown strikes, while rushing for 181 yards and three more scores. Manziel’s total offensive yardage was the third highest ever among NCAA FBS freshmen and set an SEC record for most total offensive yards in a single game (breaking his own record of 557 set earlier this season against Arkansas). Manziel also became the first player in SEC history to record two games of 500+ yards of total offense in a single season.
But can Johnny Football produce similar feats of greatness against a battle-tested defense that annually ranks among the nation’s best? Clearing that hurdle is the next challenge for Manziel and Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin, who has already acquitted himself well in his first season in the league. Against Florida, another supreme defense, Manziel passed for 173 yards and rushed for 60, accounting for just one touchdown. Certainly that’s respectable, but it wasn’t enough to allow the Aggies to upend the Gators in A&M’s first-ever SEC game.
Now LSU comes calling to renew a once-lively rivalry. The Tigers dominated the Aggies in their most recent meeting, a 41-24 beat down in the Cotton Bowl following the 2010 season. That was the 50th game between the teams, though Saturday marks the first regular-season meeting since 1995. A&M has won the past five regular-season games against the Tigers, and if the Aggies can make it a sixth straight regular season win in the series, the legend of Johnny Football is destined to grow even more.
#6 LSU vs #20 TEXAS A&M
SAT. OCT. 20 – NOON / ESPN