November 10th, 2012. I watched in awe as a nineteen year old kid ran around, past, and through the best defense in the entire nation, that also happened to be coached by the best coach in the nation. This young man was about fifteen months removed from his senior prom, and yet anytime his team needed a spark, or a key first down, he delivered without even blinking. Nick Saban had no answer for him, and he led the Aggies to an enormous 29-24 upset win over the Tide in front of over 100,000 stunned Alabama fans. Most college football fans knew that Texas A&M had a very talented freshmen quarterback by the name of Johnny Manziel, but November 10th, 2012 was when Johnny Football was truly born.
From there, Manziel went to New York and collected a Heisman Trophy; the first freshmen to ever do so. And from New York he went to Cowboys stadium and embarrassed Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. As the 2012 season came to a close, there was no hotter name in college sports than Johnny Football.
Then came the off-season. An off-season that consisted of Manziel shoving a graduate assistant at practice, oversleeping and missing a day of the Manning football camp which may or may not have involved alcohol, and getting kicked out of a University of Texas fraternity party. The kid couldn’t even handle a parking ticket with class, tweeting out to followers that he “couldn’t wait to leave College Station” after he was fined by campus police. Oh yeah, and there’s that thing about him signing thousands of pieces of memorabilia. Of course, the NCAA couldn’t prove Manziel received compensation for doing so, so I will assume he did that out of the kindness of his heart.
The few fans that Manziel has left will argue that he’s just a kid. That this is just a case of boys being boys. None of us are stupid, we know that a great deal of the athletes we see on Saturday’s go out and have a few drinks afterwords. The difference is that none of those players draw attention to themselves like Manziel, and it never becomes an issue. Many young quarterbacks have handled college stardom just fine before Manziel, and many more will after him.
It’s very had to say if Johnny will have success once he gets to the next level. Yes, he has a lot of work to do on his mechanics and it is doubtful he would be able to dance around NFL defenders like he has in the NCAA. But at the same time, the kid does have the “it” factor, and as thrived when the lights have shown brightest, so NFL teams will certainly look at that as a plus. However, if I were an NFL GM and had to decide if Johnny Manziel was the next face of my franchise, the one question would ask myself is “this kid can’t handle being an SEC star…how can he handle being an NFL quarterback?”
On Saturday, Manziel will face off against the team that helped make him famous once again. While memories of the Tide crushing Notre Dame’s season last year are still vivid, I’d be lying if said I wasn’t pulling for them this week. Nobody was rooting harder for Johnny Football that November afternoon than I was; and nobody will be rooting harder for Alabama to humble the spoiled brat this Saturday.
GAME BALLS WEEK 2:
Aaron Murray, QB Georgia: 17-23 for 309 yards and four touchdowns in UGA’s 41-30 win over South Carolina
Taysom Hill, QB BYU: 129 passing yards, 259 rush yards and three touchdowns in BYU’s 40-21 upset win over Texas. His 259 yards rushing were the most by a QB since Vince Young had 267 in 2005.
Jeremy Gallon, WR Michigan: Sorry, but he earned it. Set career highs with 184 receiving yards and three touchdowns in Michigan’s 41-30 win over Notre Dame
THIS WEEK FOR THE IRISH
Notre Dame will travel to West Lafetytte for another meeting with Purdue. The Irish will be in a bit of an unfamiliar position; this will be the first time they’ve played the week following a loss since they played Navy on October 29th, 2011 after a loss to USC. To some, this may seem like a potential trap game. We’ve seen it before; a team with national title implications loses early in the season, and they lose their edge the next week. Fortuanatley, the Boilermakers are not a good football team, so chances at an upset are slim. Purdue lost by thirty five in week one in Cincinatti, and narrowly escaped a victory over a six win FCS team last week. They have a first year starting quarterback who was converted from wide receiver last year and does not have a touchdown pass yet this season, so the defense will have an easier time with him than they had with Devin Gardner last weekend. A lot of huge upsets happen when the favored team is at home, so I’m happy in a lot of ways that the Irish have to travel to Purdue and step out of comfort zone a bit. I think it will help them focus at the task at end and mimize any chances at an upset. I like Notre Dame to bounce back this week, take care of business, and keep that drum quiet.
PREDICTION: NOTRE DAME 28 PURDUE 3
WEEK 3 PICKS: UCONN +7 over Maryland
1-1 LAST WEEK
Last week I hit on Illinois +7.5 over Cincinatti, and had my first miss of the season on Memphis +4.5 over Duke.
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