Oklahoma football: OU, Texas A&M meet again, one year later and worlds apart
COTTON BOWL — Texas A&M changed conferences, coaches and quarterbacks since last playing Oklahoma just 14 months ago. On Friday in Arlington, Texas, we'll find out what difference all that makes.
ARLINGTON, Texas — Oklahoma certainly didn't expect to see Texas A&M again so soon after it changed conferences.
But here the Sooners are, preparing to face A&M for the 17th consecutive season in Friday's Cotton Bowl Classic at Cowboys Stadium.
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Oklahoma easily handled the Aggies, 41-25, in Norman last season; since then, though, Texas A&M bolted for the Southeastern Conference, changed coaches and found itself a once-in-a-lifetime kind of quarterback.
“I think their mindset has changed, but the reality is, we just played these guys a year ago,” said OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell. “We know they have different schemes and different coaches, but we should feel confident in the matchups.”
Former OU assistant Kevin Sumlin became Texas A&M's head coach, replacing the fired Mike Sherman, and a little-known redshirt freshman named Johnny Manziel emerged from a four-man quarterback battle to earn the starting position.
Manziel eventually became the first-ever freshman to win the Heisman Trophy; he threw for 3,419 yards and 24 touchdowns, rushed for 1,181 yards and 19 scores and directed a thrilling upset at Alabama.
Texas A&M, 7-6 in its final Big 12 season, was widely expected to struggle as a first-year SEC member; the conference has produced college football's last six national champions.
But Sumlin's Aggies went 10-2 and were ranked No. 9 in the final BCS standings. A&M's only two losses were to perennial powers Florida and LSU.
“A lot of the same personnel, but they've made changes on their offense to adjust to the conference they're in,” said OU linebacker Tom Wort. “They're a lot of the same players, but their quarterback is a lot more mobile than last year with (Ryan) Tannehill. They've adjusted to Manziel and his style of play, which has just made their offense even better.”
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