Cotton Bowl 2013: Texas A&M's Thumping of Oklahoma Sets Tone for Next Season

Shawn Brubaker@@63brubakerContributor IIJanuary 4, 2013

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 04:  Johnny Manziel #2 of the Texas A&M Aggies runs the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium on January 4, 2013 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The blueprint to beating Texas A&M was clear for Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. Stop Johnny Manziel, and you stop Texas A&M.

Turns out, that's easier said than done, as Manziel and the Aggies thumped the Sooners 41-13 and set up Texas A&M to reach new highs for the program.

The first and most important reason for optimism is clearly Johnny Football. With a nickname like that, you have to be good, and Manziel is all that and then some. Manziel had around double the rushing yards of the entire Sooners team, not to mention his efficient passing.

Beyond Manziel, there is a lot of youth on offense that will explode next season.

Freshman receiver Mike Evans has already established himself as one of the SEC's best receivers, with 82 receptions for 1,105 yards on the season. Likewise, freshman running back Trey Williams has already proven to be an explosive change of pace, averaging around six yards per carry this season.

The list of young talent at the skill positions goes on and on for the Aggies, but where they'll really need to develop young talent is at defensive end and offensive tackle, where they are likely to lose Luke Joeckel, Jake Matthews and Damontre Moore to the draft, despite being juniors. 

Fortunately, the Aggies are ready there too, with a stable of talented freshmen, sophomores and recruits ready to fill the void.

Another reason for concern is the departure of offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who is bringing his talents to Texas Tech as their head coach. Kevin Sumlin will find a way to fill the void, though, and Johnny Manziel is too talented to experience much of a hangover. 

If nothing else, there is one big, new reason to watch Texas A&M football in 2013: Ricky Seals-Jones.

The No. 1 athlete in the nation, Seals-Jones is huge, fast and powerful. Check out his highlights video and watch as the talented athlete dominates multiple positions, blowing up opponents with big hits or blowing by them for big gains.

Johnny Football's Heisman was the warning. Tonight was the wake-up call for the rest of the nation.

Look at what A&M did tonight.

Well over 600 yards of offense, with over 200 yards rushing from the quarterback. The Aggies averaged almost 10 yards per play on offense. The Sooners averaged fewer than five. 

We all know the SEC is stacked, and LSU and Alabama aren't going away. But neither is Texas A&M. This team's 11-2 record is not an aberration, it's a trend. There is a national power growing in College Station.