Johnny Football: What if Texas A&M Was Still in the Big 12?

Tyler Raborn —  Wednesday, January 2, 2013 — 8 Comments

What if?

What if Texas A&M hadn’t joined the SEC? What if the Heisman Trophy winner had played the 2012 season against predominantly Big 12 opponents? What if?

Well… here’s what if:

Johnny Manziel would have had the single greatest college football season OF ALL TIME.

I’m not the type to make arbitrary statements. I asked myself these same questions and researched the applicable statistics. And then, well… and then I realized…

Johnny Manziel would have had the single greatest college football season OF ALL TIME.

Here’s how…

First, I looked at Texas A&M’s opponents this year and how those opponents did against every other team they played. Specifically, I looked out how many yards and points they allowed in those games.

So, here’s Texas A&M’s 2012 opponents, with the yards they allowed per game (“YAPG”) and the points they allowed per game (“PAPG”):




Florida 283.42 12.92
SMU 400.25 27.00
South Carolina St. N/A N/A
Arkansas 409.92 30.42
Ole Miss 385.00 28.50
Louisiana Tech 526.08 38.50
LSU 296.17 16.92
Auburn 420.50 28.33
Mississippi State 389.92 22.42
Alabama 246.00 10.33
Sam Houston St. N/A N/A
Missouri 390.67 28.42

In order to obtain a more applicable statistic, I adjusted the YAPG and PAPG for each of Texas A&M’s opponents. These adjusted statistics remove each team’s game against Texas A&M, so that it gives a more accurate depiction of what the team did against every team other than Texas A&M. So here’s Texas A&M’s 2012 opponents, with their adjusted yards and points allowed per game:


Adjusted YAPG

Adjusted PAPG

Florida 278.82 12.55
SMU 381.64 25.09
South Carolina St. N/A N/A
Arkansas 382.09 27.91
Ole Miss 376.29 28.36
Louisiana Tech 512.27 36.64
LSU 285.82 16.73
Auburn 397.73 25.18
Mississippi State 362.37 21.00
Alabama 230.36 8.63
Sam Houston St. N/A N/A
Missouri 367.37 25.64

Side Note: Yes- Removing the Texas A&M game from Alabama’s schedule would have lowered their points allowed per game to a nearly unfathomable 8.63 points a game.

Moving on…

Then, I looked at Texas A&M’s actual performance, in yards and points, against those teams in comparison to how many yards and points those teams typically allowed. Here’s Texas A&M’s actual performance against their opponents in 2012:


Yards (Adjusted YAPG)

Points (Adjusted PAPG)

Florida 334 (278.82) 17 (12.55)
SMU 605 (381.64) 48 (25.09)
South Carolina St. N/A N/A
Arkansas 716 (382.09) 58 (27.91)
Ole Miss 481 (376.29) 30 (28.36)
Louisiana Tech 678 (512.27) 59 (36.64)
LSU 410 (285.82) 19 (16.73)
Auburn 671 (397.73) 63 (25.18)
Mississippi State 693 (362.37) 38 (21.00)
Alabama 418 (230.36) 29 (8.63)
Sam Houston St. N/A N/A
Missouri 647 (367.37) 59 (25.64)

Next, I had to compare that to how Johnny Football did in each of those games, so here’s Johnny Manziel’s stats, total yards gained and total touchdowns scored, in each game this year:


Manziel’s Total Yards

Manziel’s Total Touchdowns

Florida 233 1
SMU 418 6
South Carolina St. 252 5
Arkansas 557 4
Ole Miss 320 2
Louisiana Tech 576 6
LSU 303 0
Auburn 350 5
Mississippi State 440 2
Alabama 345 2
Sam Houston St. 367 5
Missouri 439 5
Totals 4,600 43

Now comes the fun part. I removed all non-FBS games (South Carolina State and Sam Houston State) and determined percentages, which represented (1) Texas A&M’s total yards gained in relation to their opponents average yards allowed per game and (2) Texas A&M’s points scored in relation to their opponents average points allowed per game. The percentage for Texas A&M’s yards gained was 159%, and the percentage for Texas A&M’s points scored was 191%. In other words, Texas A&M gained 59% more yards and scored 91% more points than their opponents typically allowed.

Further, I had to determine Manziel’s total contribution to the offense this year. After dividing Texas A&M’s total offense by Manziel’s total yards gained in each game, and then averaging all of the games to figure out his percentage of contribution per game, I determined that 70.8% of the offense per game was attributable to Manziel. Using the same process, I determined he was also responsible for 47.1% of Texas A&M’s points scored per game.

So, next, I had to apply these statistics to Texas A&M’s schedule if they were still in the Big 12.

If Texas A&M had not made the switch to the SEC, here is what their 2012 schedule* would have most likely looked like:


2012 YAPG

2012 PAPG

SMU 400.25 27.00
Arkansas 409.92 30.42
Louisiana Tech 526.08 38.50
Missouri 390.67 28.42
Oklahoma 381.36 24.82
Oklahoma State 409.09 28.36
Baylor 509.73 38.55
Texas Tech 367.25 31.83
Texas 417.73 28.27
Iowa State 444.83 23.33
Kansas 466.82 34.00
Kansas State 371.00 20.82

*I determined this schedule by combining their old projected conference schedule (not including West Virginia or TCU) with the first non-conference games they scheduled (SMU, Arkansas, and Louisiana Tech). 

So, I derived a formula for determining Manziel’s total yards gained in each game:

Opponent's YAPG x Texas A&M's Performance % x Manziel's Contribution % = Manziel's Total Yards Gained

For instance, Kansas allowed 466.82 yards per game this year. Plugging that into the formula with Texas A&M’s performance percentage (which for yards we know is 159%) and Manziel’s contribution percentage (70.8%), we get:

466.82 x 159% x 70.8% = 525.51

So, according to my formula, Manziel would have gained 525.51 total yards against Kansas. Similarly, here’s the same basic formula for Manziel’s points per game:

Opponent's PAPG x Texas A&M's Performance % x Manziel's Contribution % = Manziel's Points Scored

Applying these formulas to each game, here’s Johnny Football’s stats for 2012 in the Big 12 (numbers rounded to the nearest hundredth):


Manziel’s Total Yards Gained

Manziel’s Points Scored

SMU 418* 36*
Arkansas 557* 24*
Louisiana Tech 576* 36*
Missouri 439* 30*
Oklahoma 429.30 22.97
Oklahoma State 460.52 26.25
Baylor 573.81 35.68
Texas Tech 413.42 29.46
Texas 470.25 26.16
Iowa State 500.75 21.59
Kansas 525.51 31.47
Kansas State 417.64 19.27
Totals 5,781.21 Yards 338.85 (~56.48 Touchdowns)

*I did not apply the formula to games Texas A&M actually played this year, I just used Manziel’s actual stats in those games.

Thus, according to my unqualified opinion, and assuming a lot of variables, Johnny Manziel would have had 5,781 yards and 56 touchdowns in 2012 during the 12-game regular season. He would have gained 1,181 more yards and scored 13 more touchdowns than he actually did this year.

But, that’s not all historians include in the stats…

As of 2002, single season records include postseason statistics. So, I’m going to take my assumptions one step (or maybe several steps) further. I think Texas A&M wins every single one of those games. Which, puts them in the National Championship*, playing an undefeated… Alabama. Alabama’s only loss came from Texas A&M, and we removed them from the SEC, remember? And as to how that National Championship game would go, well, we all know what happened when Texas A&M actually played Alabama…

*Yes, I know Notre Dame would be undefeated, but I think the computers would have given the number 2 spot to Texas A&M, placing Notre Dame at number 3, and subsequently, out of the National Championship game.

So, if you add Manziel’s actual performance against Alabama, 345 total yards and 2 touchdowns, that would give Manziel 6,126 total yards and 58 total touchdowns for the 2012 season. With 6,126 total yards, Johnny Football would have broken the record for total offense in a single season, which is currently held by B.J. Symons with 5,976 yards (2003). It would also place him only 4 touchdowns shy of Colt Brennan’s record of 63 touchdowns in a season (2006).

So, in conclusion, if Texas A&M had been in the Big 12 this year, Johnny Manziel would have broken the record for total offense in a single season, won the Heisman, and won the National Championship. In other words…

Johnny Manziel would have had the single greatest college football season OF ALL TIME.


By: Tyler Raborn

Tyler Raborn


New Orleans Resident, Tulane Law Student, and Mississippi State Alum

8 responses to Johnny Football: What if Texas A&M Was Still in the Big 12?


    [Update] Johnny Manziel finished this season with 5,116 yards of total offense and 47 total touchdowns.


    what a great read! I would think A&M is a bit of an anomaly to the SEC because its uptempo style was more condusive to the Big XII. I’m not sure if TAM would have been as successful in the Big 12 because they would have faced more teams used to playing against uptempo offenses.
    West Virginia did well in the Big 12 for a while until facing defenses that had dealt with uptempo offenses.


    No SEC? JF would have been on the sideline with a clipboard next to Coach Sherman as Showers ran Sherm’s pro style attack to a respectable 8-5 season.


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