Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) runs in for a touchdown past Auburn defensive back Demetruce McNeal (12) during the first half Saturday in Auburn, Ala.
AUBURN, Ala. — Ryan Swope thinks Johnny Manziel is improving every week. The leader of Texas A&M's high-powered offense was so effective against Auburn he got to rest for much of the night.
Manziel ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more — all in a little more than a half — and the No. 22 Aggies beat the struggling Tigers 63-21 on Saturday.
"He's just one of those guys who can go out and perform at a high level," said Swope, who caught touchdown passes of 16 and 19 yards from Manziel in the first quarter as Texas A&M built a big early lead.
"He's getting better and better," Swope said of the freshman. "His leadership really stood out tonight."
On eight possessions led by Manziel, Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) scored seven touchdowns. The only non-scoring drive run by the phenom nicknamed "Johnny Football" ended with a missed 48-yard field goal by Taylor Bertolet on the final play of the first half.
Manziel was in the game for only one series in the third quarter and watched the rest of the rout from the sideline. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns and had nine carries for 90 yards and three scores.
"We got some guys off the field because we have a really serious stretch of games coming up," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said.
The Aggies' stretch of three straight SEC road games continues with visits to No. 13 Mississippi State and No. 1 Alabama the next two weeks.
The lopsided win over Auburn was the perfect warmup game for Texas A&M, especially coming off a 24-19 loss to LSU last week.
The Aggies gained 671 total yards, the most ever allowed by Auburn, in their first game at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Texas A&M, in its first season in the SEC, led 42-7 at halftime and 49-7 after Manziel's final possession.
Auburn (1-7, 0-6), which has lost five straight, is off to its worst start since going 1-7 in 1952.
The ugly loss came two days after Auburn President Jay Gogue addressed the football program in a message to fans. He said concerns expressed by fans "are sincere and heartfelt, and I share many of them."
Gogue didn't mention coach Gene Chizik but said the program "will be evaluated in an objective, thorough and professional process."
Asked after the loss about his status, Chizik said: "I'm not going there."
"I've got one concern and that concern is those guys in the locker room and trying to get them a win," he said. "It's not about me."
Manziel made an impressive recovery after throwing three interceptions in the loss to LSU. He had scoring runs of 6, 2 and 20 yards and finished with 350 total yards.
"I don't get surprised," Aggies defensive end Damontre Moore said when asked about Manziel.
"You kind of say 'What is he going to do this week?' He always does something amazing."
Moore had one of the Aggies' five sacks.
Led by Manziel, Texas A&M ran for 352 yards and passed for 319.
Chizik said his defense wasn't able to do anything.
"I didn't think we could tackle, I didn't think we could cover and I didn't think we could rush the quarterback," Chizik said. "I don't think you can pin that on one group."
Chizik, looking for a spark for an offense that ranked among the bottom three in the nation in total yards and points per game, tried three quarterbacks.
Jonathan Wallace, a freshman, provided much-needed hope for the Tigers by completing 6 of 9 passes for 122 yards. He connected with Emory Blake and C.J. Uzomah for 27-yard TDs.
Wallace played behind starter Clint Moseley, who was pulled after only one series, and Kiehl Frazier, who was 6 for 11 for 89 yards.
Asked if Wallace might start against New Mexico State next week, Chizik said: "Well, we're certainly going to look."
Jameill Showers and Matt Joeckel played behind Manziel. Showers led a scoring drive, capped by Trey Williams' 1-yard touchdown run, on his first possession.
Auburn's defense finally made a stop with Joeckel at quarterback, forcing Texas A&M's first punt. It drew sarcastic cheers from the fans with 38 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Williams had 19 carries for 109 yards. Christine Michael had nine carries for 75 yards, including a 34-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Ben Malena had seven carries for 63 yards, including a 7-yard TD.
Tre Mason ran for 80 yards with a touchdown for Auburn.
The announced attendance was 85,119, but less than half of that crowd was still around midway through the third quarter.
"I really wasn't focused on that, but if they emptied out at halftime, it's obvious why and I can't blame them from what they saw," Chizik said. "It was just a very poor performance."