3:30 PM ET, November 10, 2012
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Johnny Manziel, Texas A&M pull upset as No. 1 Alabama's rally falls short
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Johnny Football and the SEC newbies from Texas A&M took down the biggest bully in their new neighborhood and left No. 1 Alabama with badly bruised national championship hopes.
Johnny Manziel, better known around Texas as Johnny Football, staked the 15th-ranked Aggies to a three-touchdown lead in the first quarter, and Texas A&M held on to beat the Crimson Tide 29-24 on Saturday.
The Aggies (8-2, 5-2), playing in the Southeastern Conference for the first season after ditching the Big 12, also might have ended the league's run of BCS titles at six years.
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The defending national champion Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1), who have been No. 1 almost all season and had won 13 straight, didn't go quietly.
AJ McCarron nearly pulled off a second straight scintillating comeback. He threw one touchdown pass and motored the ball downfield before Deshazor Everett stepped in front of his fourth-down pass at the goal line with 1:36 left.
Manziel passed for 253 yards and rushed for 92, confounding the Tide defense with his ability to keep plays alive as the Aggies scored the game's first 20 points.
"No moment is too big for him," coach Kevin Sumlin said of his remarkable redshirt freshman.
And no defense or venue too tough, apparently.
"If you're around him every day, I don't think it bothers him that much," Sumlin said.
The Aggies had been 1-10 against top-ranked teams with the only previous win coming 30-26 over Oklahoma in 2002, but Manziel and Sumlin have entered the SEC with speed and swagger -- and fit right in.
"They played a tremendous game and certainly outplayed us," Tide coach Nick Saban said.
Alabama managed a second-shot national title after losing to LSU just over a year ago in the regular season but seems a longshot to do it again. Alabama would have secured a spot in the SEC championship game with a victory and only Western Carolina and Auburn remaining.
"Two of the three national championship teams that I coached lost a game," Saban said, counting one at LSU. "This team still has an opportunity to win the West and go to the SEC championship game and win a championship. There's still a lot for this team to play for."
No. 1 Stunner
Saturday marked the second time in Texas A&M history that the Aggies upset a top-ranked team. A&M is just 2-10 all time vs. No. 1 teams. Here's how the last three meetings went:
|2012 at Alabama||W, 29-24|
|2003 at Oklahoma||L,77-0|
|2002 vs. Oklahoma||W, 30-26|
Now, the Tide will have to beat the Tigers to clinch the West and get into the SEC title game. As for the national title, Alabama will have to hope for another shakeup in the form of losses by Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame. If the Tide wins out, and two of those teams go down, a third national championship in four seasons is still in play -- along with a seventh straight for the SEC.
For now though, the SEC is on the outside looking in at the BCS title race.
Thanks to Manziel & Co.
Alabama kept coming back, but never caught up with the slippery, speedy Manziel and the Aggies.
The nation's top scoring defense forced a punt with less than a minute left, but A&M never had to kick it away. The Tide were penalized for offisides, giving Texas A&M a first down and a chance to kneel out the clock.
"The players were told 'make sure you stay onsides, they are going to try to get you to jump offsides with a shift or a motion or something,' " Saban said.
McCarron breathed life into Alabama with a 54-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to freshman Amari Cooper to make it 29-24 with 4:29 left.
A quick three-and-out by the Aggies put the ball in McCarron's hands again. He opened at the 40 with a 54-yarder to speedster Kenny Bell down to the 6. Two scrambles and an Eddie Lacy run left one final shot from the 2 against a Texas A&M defense often overshadowed by its potent offense.
Run Gets Grounded
Alabama ran for a season-low 121 yards on 26 designed running plays against Texas A&M. The Tide gained 10 or more yards on 12.5 percent of their rushes, down from the 20 percent average they enjoyed in other conference games.
|1st 6 SEC games||Saturday|
|10+ yd rush PG||7.3||3.0|
He had some time on third down, rolling left but finding Lacy well covered and having to try running it, a la Manziel, before Dustin Harris stopped him at the 2.
McCarron had rescued the Tide's national title hopes with a 28-yard screen pass in the final minute for a 21-17 win over LSU (No. 7 BCS, No. 9 AP). The Aggies, nearly two-touchdown underdogs, didn't let him do it again. Everett made the play on a pass toward the front corner of the end zone.
"This is one of those meaningful experiences where when you reflect back on your college career, you say 'We did something great,' " Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore said.
McCarron completed 21-of-34 passes for 309 yard but also was intercepted twice, ending his streak without getting picked off at 291 passes.
Lacy had 16 carries for 92 yards for Alabama and added 35 yards on four catches. Cooper had six catches for 136 yards a week after missing much the second half of the LSU game with an ankle injury, and failing to make a reception.
The Aggies had already lost to top-10 teams LSU and Florida by a combined eight points, proving they're already challengers in the powerhouse SEC.
"We played with a chip on our shoulder," receiver Ryan Swope said. "We were just trying to make a statement that we could compete with anybody in this league."
Manziel completed 24-of-31 passes with two touchdowns and ran 18 times, including four sacks.
He kept finding Swope. They hooked up 11 times for 111 yards and a 10-yard touchdown where Manziel bobbled the ball as defenders swarmed him, reversed field and spotted Swope alone in the back of the end zone.
The Aggies' first-quarter touchdown drives, giving them a 20-0 lead, stunned the Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd of 101,821. Christine Michael had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in the quarter, along with Swope's TD catch.
"We weren't stunned at all," Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "As a defense, we knew they were going to make plays, that's what their offense depends on. They got a great quarterback, they got a great running back. We just have to settle down and play Alabama football."
The rest of the game was an emotional roller-coaster ride for fans who might have thought LSU was the toughest test on the road to another championship.
Then Alabama flexed its own muscle to counter Manziel's speed, sticking with power runs to set up 2-yard touchdown runs by T.J. Yeldon and Lacy.
McCarron also converted a fourth-and-4 with a pass to Lacy to set up the first score. Alabama marched back down the field after Mosley pushed Manziel out of bounds a yard shy on fourth-and-6.
The Tide ran out all but 19 seconds with a methodical drive right back into the game.
It was still the first time Alabama had trailed at halftime since a loss at South Carolina in 2010.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Alabama LB Tyler Hayes committed a neutral-zone infraction when the Aggies were lining up to punt it away with 40 seconds left.
Gameball goes to... Johnny Manziel. He was 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns and most importantly, zero interceptions. He also rushed for 92 yards.
Stat of the game... 3-0. Turnovers. Alabama QB AJ McCarron threw two interceptions, including one on his final drive. T.J. Yeldon fumbled to stop a drive.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||11-18||7-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-2|
|TD||10:34||Christine Michael 1 Yd Run (Taylor Bertolet Kick)||7||0|
|TD||07:59||Ryan Swope 10 Yd Pass From Johnny Manziel (Taylor Bertolet Kick)||14||0|
|TD||00:41||Christine Michael 1 Yd Run (Pat Failed)||20||0|
|TD||10:04||T.J. Yeldon 2 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||20||7|
|TD||00:19||Eddie Lacy 2 Yd Run (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||20||14|
|FG||04:56||Jeremy Shelley 28 Yd||20||17|
|FG||14:16||Taylor Bertolet 29 Yd||23||17|
|TD||08:37||Malcome Kennedy 24 Yd Pass From Johnny Manziel (Two-Point Conversion Failed)||29||17|
|TD||06:09||Amari Cooper 54 Yd Pass From AJ McCarron (Jeremy Shelley Kick)||29||24|
The NCAA restored freshman eligibility in 1972. On Saturday, Johnny Manziel became the second freshman quarterback to win a game against the AP top-ranked team on the road. The only other freshman QB to beat the AP's top-ranked team on the road was Oklahoma's Charles Thompson who won at No. 1 Nebraska in 1987.
With Saturday's upset at Alabama, Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M are 6-0 on the road this season. In those 6 road games, Manziel has thrown for over 280 yards a game, rushed for over 120 a contest, and accounted for 23 touchdowns - 12 TD passes and 11 rushing TDs.[+]
Johnny Manziel - On Road This Season
Alabama's defense has allowed 46 points in it's last 2 games after allowing a total of 65 points in its first 8 games combined.[+]
Low Tide? - Alabama Defense This Season
* Since the preseason poll came into existence in 1950, only 4 times has the AP No. 1 team faced a top 15 team in three straight regular season games. In 3 of the 4 instances, AP No. 1 lost that 3rd game - and in the lone win - by Miami in 2001, the Hurricanes won by 2 AP No. 1 Faced Top 15 Opponent In 3 Consecutive Regular Season Games, Since 1950 Opponents Final Game Result 2012 Alabama 13 MSST, 5 LSU, 14 A&M Lost 2008 Texas 11 MIZZ, 7 OKST, 6 TTU Lost 2001 Miami 14 SYR, 12 WASH, 14 VT Won < 1978 Alabama 10 NEB, 11 MIZZ, 7 USC Lost < Won by 2 points
Prior to Alabama's loss to Texas A&M today, AP No. 1 had not lost a November home game since 2007 Both teams to lose at home in November that year - Ohio State to Illinois and LSU to Arkansas - wound up meeting in the BCS Championship Game that season Prior to 2007, the last team to lose a November home game as AP No. 1 was Ohio State in 1998 - when they lost to a Nick Saban-coached Michigan State team
Johnny Manziel has become the 2nd freshman in FBS history with 2,000 pass yards and 1,000 rush yards in the same season, joining Brad Smith of Missouri, who did it in 2002 (and then again as a senior in 2005). He's the 12th player in FBS history -- in any class -- to go 2,000-1,000 in the same season (including Northern Illinois junior Jordan Lynch, who has already done it this season).[+]
The last time Alabama trailed by 14 points in a game: October 9, 2010 vs South Carolina. South Carolina led 35-21 and won by that score. In case today's deficit gets bigger - South Carolina led by as many as 18 points in that game.
The 7-0 Texas A&M lead on Alabama is the largest deficit the Tide has faced all season.
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