Alabama Getaway: Johnny Football Leads A&M Over Top Ranked Tide
It seemed as if the #1 Alabama Crimson Tide were destined to defend their 2011 BCS Championship with their final 3 games being played in Tuscaloosa. First the Tide would have to hold off #15 Texas A&M and their freshman phenom Johnny Football. If the Tide could roll past the Aggies they would have two cakewalk games against Western Carolina and Auburn to finish out the regular season. Alabama returned home after squeaking out a come from behind victory against the #5 LSU Tigers. TAMU was traveling to Alabama to finish off a three game road stretch in which they blew out Auburn and Mississippi State and were hoping to beat a top ranked team for just the 2nd time in school history.
The last and only time the Aggies beat a #1 ranked team was in 2002 when they beat the Oklahoma Sooners by 4 points. That win came at the friendly confines of Kyle Field, while the unlikely upset on Saturday was played in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The last big road win TAMU had come back in 1979 when they beat the #6 Penn State Nittany Lions in State College. Texas A&M was 1-10 against top ranked teams coming into this game and had a 1-3 record against Alabama.There are numerous astounding facts and details about this game but none are bigger than the big play ability of a freshman QB and his capability to lead his team to three 1st quarter touchdowns.
For the entire 2012 season the Crimson Tide had allowed just 6 total points in the first half of their previous 9 games. Johnny Manziel, or Johnny Football as his Texas compadres know him as, was a big reason for the 20 points that the Aggies put on the scoreboard in the 15 minutes of the game. A missed extra point gave the Aggies a 20-0 lead and the upset alert was sounding across the country. Alabama has shut down their opponents and until their game last week against LSU they had just trailed for a few seconds. Now the Tide found they were down by three scores against a young talented A&M team that was ranked 15th in the country.
Alabama would fight their way back into the game cutting the lead to just 3 points after a late 3rd quarter field goal. Manziel and the Aggies went back to work and were successful on their next two offensive drives, scoring a short field goal and then Johnny Football connected on a 24 yard touchdown pass to Malcome Kennedy. Another failed attempt left TAMU with a 29-17 lead but the Crimson Tide aren’t a team that will just roll over and let their Championship aspirations expire. Alabama QB A.J. McCarron would connect on a 54 yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper with just over 6 minutes to go, cutting the lead to 5 with the Tide down 29-24.
It would come to the last possession of the game as Manziel and TAMU would give the Tide the ball back after a quick 3 and out. After a poor punt and a short return ‘Bama had the ball at their 40 but on the first play McCarron hit Kenny Bell for a 54 yard gain and it seemed like the Crimson Tide may just slip by once again, just as they had against LSU last week. Alabama rushed the ball 3 straight times, twice with McCarron and once with Eddie Lacy but they had gained just 4 yards. Faced with a 4th and Goal from the A&M 2 yard line McCarron had a chance to be the savior. McCarron made a bad pass and A&M player Deshazor Everett jumped in front of the ball and picked it off. With just 1:36 left on the clock all Texas A&M had to do was run out the clock, which they did.
Johnny Manziel was the reason why the Aggies upset the Crimson Tide as he accumulated 345 total yards against ‘Bama. He was 24-31 through the air accumulating 253 yards and passing for 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. Manziel also rushed the ball 18 times for 92 yards but his quick feet allowed him to extend the play and find open receivers. Coming out of high school Manziel was a dual threat as he rushed for over 3200 yards and scored 63 touchdowns on the ground during his junior and senior seasons in Kerrville, Texas. Despite those incredible numbers on the ground Manziel proved time and time again that he could also beat you with his arm. In those final two seasons of high school he also passed for over 6300 yards with 64 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions.
Manziel was redshirted last season but during his first year starting under rookie A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin he is already being thought of in the Heisman Trophy race. As for Alabama they lost their first game of the season and are now 9-1 on the year, falling from #1 to #4 in the BCS rankings. The Crimson Tide may not be the front-runners for the BCS Title game this year but they are definitely one of the few. Nick Saban has lost in November yet again and during his tenure with the Tide he holds a 14-8 record in November. This may just be yet another reason why the NCAA should switch to a multiple team playoff scenario but until they do we are anxiously waiting which two teams will be perched atop the rankings.