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Texas A&M Aggies 52, Rice Owls 31: Johnny Manziel is Back. So is the Controversy

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Texas A&M won as expected against Rice, but they made things interesting in more ways than one

Scott Halleran

There didn't appear to be much danger that Texas A&M would lose to Rice regardless of how long Johnny Manziel played. After all, the wags said, Manziel would still play for just a half against Rice; the only thing the NCAA suspensions altered would be which half he would spend on the field.

And it was sort of a reverse blowout; instead of running up the score early and then coasting to a win, the Aggies seemed to be sleepwalking through the first part of the game only to wake up and put the game away later. Rice twice led the game by a touchdown, and A&M went to the locker room at halftime up just 28-21.

No worries; Manziel came in and went 6-of-8 for 94 yards and three touchdowns. The only thing particularly gaudy in that stat line is the three scoring strikes; still, if you're a fan of passing efficiency, the small sample size gave him a rating of 297.45, a pace that Manziel is unlikely to maintain. It's still a sign that he appears to be ready to go.

If you were looking for something even more encouraging, it's that the Aggies appear to have some options that could allow Manziel to do a little less running this year. Ben Malena and Tra Carson combined for 158 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries; Malena also caught one of Manziel's touchdown passes.

But the controversy, as we soon found out, is not going to be gone even now that Manziel is back on the field. He got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, something that caused a quick spasm of Twitter reaction and will likely provide fodder for sports shows. And two Texas A&M defenders were ejected from the game -- Deshazor Everett under the controversial new targeting rule, and Daeshon Hall for fighting. But as long as the results are the same as they were Saturday, the Aggies have shown they can take a little bit of controversy.