The Missouri Tigers went to College Station, Texas, hoping to be in a bowl game for their eighth consecutive season, but it's more likely they'll next be seen as part of Johnny Manziel's Heisman Trophy highlight reel.
The standout Texas A&M freshman torched the Missouri defense in a 59-29 rout Saturday night as the No. 9 Aggies (9-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) ended the Tigers' bid for bowl eligibility in demonstrative fashion.
The Aggies set the tone early, driving 83 yards for a touchdown on the first drive of the game. That set the standard for the Aggies’ offensive efficiency — the Manziel-led offense scored a touchdown on each of its six possessions in the first half, staking a 42-0 lead at halftime.
Manziel was 32 of 44 for 373 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He became the new SEC total yards record-holder, snapping Cam Newton’s mark set two years ago at Auburn. Each of his passing scores came in the second quarter, putting the game well out of reach before halftime. His well-publicized mobility proved deadly. Manziel led the Aggies with 67 yards rushing with two touchdowns, and two of his passing scores came after mad scrambles from Missouri defenders in the pocket.
Forced to respect his legs, the Tigers often left receivers wide open downfield, part of the reason why A&M was 12 of 16 on third down.
The defense was not the only Missouri unit to get off to a slow start — the Tigers were off the scoreboard for most of the first half. With backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser leading the offense in place of the concussed James Franklin, the Tigers were only able to gain 64 yards in their first five possessions as the Aggies' lead widened. Berkstresser ended the night 20 of 38 for 276 yards, with most of his production coming in the second half against a relaxed Aggie defense.
Freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham caught a touchdown for the third consecutive game, and senior tailback Kendial Lawrence eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing for the season with an 87-yard effort.
Missouri outgained Texas A&M in the second half 292-208, but the large first-half lead was too great to overcome.