But the Sooners' problems with running quarterbacks became evident Nov. 10, when Baylor quarterback Nick Florence surprised OU with 83 yards and a touchdown.
It only got worse from there, which led many to believe Manziel, who became the first-ever freshman Heisman winner with his 3,419 passing yards, 1,181 rushing yards and 43 total touchdowns during the regular season.
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops quipped during the Cotton Bowl's lead-up that a defense's worst mistake against Manziel could be to cover all of A&M's receivers because of Manziel's dangerous ability to improvise.
“It's nothing but respect for him,” said Oklahoma senior safety Javon Harris, who intercepted a first-half Manziel pass in the end zone off a tip.
“In the first part of the game, we tried to keep him contained and stay in the box, but once he slipped out, we were chasing him.”
In the second half, Manziel displayed his passing prowess, tossing 33- and 34-yard touchdowns.
“We had him contained and then all of a sudden he got away and makes a pinpoint throw,” King said.
During Friday's game, Manziel set the all-time FBS bowl record for rushing yards for a quarterback, and set a Cotton Bowl record for total offensive yards in a game.
“Best player I think I've ever played,” Mike Stoops said. “He just does so many good things.
“He's got magic. He's throwing the ball better than he did early in the season and he understands what they're doing. His offensive line does a great job stretching plays for him. He'll have a chance to win four (Heisman Trophies) if he stays healthy.”