ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas A&M just kept getting stronger and stronger.
Whether it was the Aggies' 41-13 win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Friday night at Cowboys Stadium or Texas A&M's season as a whole, the Aggies just kept getting stronger.
“Tonight was really indicative of the season,” A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, a former Sooners assistant, said. “It's one of the teams I thought in the country that truly got better every week. We didn't always do everything right all the time but I don't think there was ever a game this year where these guys didn't play with tremendous effort.”
The Aggies' first season in the Southeastern Conference didn't necessarily start with a thud — A&M lost 20-17 at home to a Florida team that went on to play in the BCS.
But it was enough to raise questions over whether the Aggies could compete in the SEC over the course of a season.
Texas A&M more than did that — knocking off No. 1 Alabama in the process and leaving the Sooners wondering whether Texas A&M, not Notre Dame or Kansas State, was the best team they played this season.
“They're certainly right there,” Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said.
Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, Johnny Manziel, torched the Sooners defense like he had defenses in the defense-centric SEC all season.
The Aggies, in their first season of SEC play after moving over from the Big 12, set the conference on fire.
Friday night, A&M became the first team in conference history to put up more than 7,000 yards of total offense over a season.
“We never doubted ourselves,” Sumlin said. ‘Everybody acts like I didn't know what we were getting into when I took the job. We were already in the SEC. We weren't coming into the league to play games. We were coming in to try to win this league.”
But the offense in the Cotton Bowl wasn't the exact same offense the Aggies had used all season.
With Kliff Kingsbury having left Texas A&M to take the head coaching job at Texas Tech, Clarence McKinney took over the play-calling duties.
The results were the same — lots of Manziel yards on the ground and through the air and lots of A&M points — but the method was slightly different.
“There was a little bit more misdirection,” Sumlin said. “Continuity is important for what we do. Him calling plays tonight, obviously you can call plays randomly but unless players believe in it, it doesn't really matter.”
The result was A&M turning in one of its most dominant performances of the season and its showcase player turning in another spectacular game.
“We came and played one of our best games all year today,” Manziel said. “I'm not really worried about the future and all that right now. I'm really enjoying this.”