Texas A&M’s offense was practically unstoppable, with and without Johnny Manziel. That Aggies defense needed all the help it could get against Rice.
Johnny Football packed three touchdown passes into less than a half of work for the seventh-ranked Aggies, who beat Rice 52-31 in College Station, Texas, on Saturday.
Manziel was held out of the first half because of what the school said was an “inadvertent” violation of NCAA rules involving signing autographs. The sophomore had been investigated for allegedly accepting money for autographs from memorabilia brokers, a violation of NCAA rules that could have led to a much longer suspension.
He came in on Texas A&M’s first offensive play of the second half. His first play was a 12-yard run, and the Aggies capped his first drive with a 44-yard field goal. His first touchdown came on a 23-yard pass to Mike Evans on A&M’s second drive of the half.
Shortly before that, he got into it with a Rice defender, appearing to mimic signing an autograph while getting up from a tackle. He ended his day by getting yanked following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for pointing at the scoreboard after a TD pass in the fourth quarter.
He was replaced by Matt Joeckel on A&M’s last drive.
Joeckel started at quarterback for A&M and threw for 190 yards and a touchdown to help the Aggies to a 28-21 lead at halftime.
Manziel was one of more than a half dozen players serving suspensions Saturday.
Cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and De’Vante Harris, defensive tackle Kirby Ennis, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and linebacker Steven Jenkins, all starters, sat out for Texas A&M. Everett returned in the second half, then was ejected for a targeting penalty and he’ll miss the first half of next week’s game against Sam Houston State, too. Backup safety Floyd Raven was also suspended for this game.