A&M Upsets No. 1 Alabama

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- 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.

29 - 24
Bryant-Denny Stadium • Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Attendance: 101,821 • Temperature: 72˚
Boxscore: PDF  |  HTML

1 2 3 4  
A&M   (8-2, 5-2) 20 0 0 9 29
Alabama   (9-1, 6-1) 0 14 3 7 24
 Stats at a Glance
First Downs 23 17
Rushes-Yards 46-165 31-122
Passing Yards 253 309
Passing A-C-I 31-24-0 34-21-2
Total Yards 418 431
Fumbles 0-0 1-1
Interceptions 0 2
Punts 3-40.7 4-56.5
3rd Downs 11-18 7-15
4th Downs 0-1 1-2
Sacks 2-4 4-15
TOP 32:27 27:33
 Individual Leaders
A&M - Johnny Manziel 18 carries, 92 yards
ALA - Eddie Lacy 16 carries, 92 yards, TD
A&M - Johnny Manziel 24-31, 253 yds, 2 TD
ALA - AJ McCarron 21-34, 309 yds, TD, 2 INT
A&M - Ryan Swope 11 catches, 111 yards, TD
ALA - Amari Cooper 6 catches 136 yds, TD
A&M - Kirby Ennis 7 tackles, sack
ALA - C.J. Mosley 14 tackles, 1 sack

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.

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."

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 anEddie Lacy run left one final shot from the 2 against a Texas A&M defense often overshadowed by its potent offense.

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 Harrisstopped 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.

Jeremy Shelley kicked a 28-yard field goal with 4:49 in the third quarter to cut it to 20-17 and Taylor Bertolet answered with a short one to start the fourth.

Post-Game Notes


+  Texas A&M's 29-24 win over No. 1 Alabama was the program's second-ever win over the top-ranked team in the Associated Press rankings. The other was a 30-26 win over then-No. 1 Oklahoma at Kyle Field in 2002.

+  It was Texas A&M's highest ranked road victory, eclipsing the Aggies' win over No. 6 Penn State in State College in 1979.

+  The Aggies' win improved their season record to 8-2 overall and 5-2 vs. the Southeastern Conference.

+  With eight wins in his first season, head coach Kevin Sumlin matched the eight wins by R.C. Slocum in his debut season, which was the best win total by a first-year head coach in school history.


+  With 11 catches against the Crimson Tide, senior WR Ryan Swope became the career catches leader at Texas A&M breaking Jeff Fuller's old record of 233 set from 2008-11. He finished the night with 11 catches for 111 yards and 1 touchdown. Although he is not eligible for SEC career records, Swope's 236 career catches matches the SEC record originally set by Earl Bennett of Vanderbilt from 2005-07. He is 46 yards from becoming the second 3,000 yard receiver in A&M history (3,092 by Fuller, 2008-11).


+  Redshirt freshman QB Johnny Manziel posted 345 total yards against the Crimson Tide with 253 passing yards and 92 rushing yards. With Manziel keeping Tide off-balance with his play-making ability, the Aggies gained 418 total yards while converting 11 of 18 third down tries and controlling the ball for nearly five more minutes than the Crimson Tide.


+  Alabama had allowed only 6 points in first quarter in previous nine games. The Aggies scored on each possession of the first quarter for 20 points.

+  The Wrecking Crew defense corralled its first fumble recovery in five games and just the second of the season when Dustin Harris grabbed T.J. Yeldon drop. The fumble recovery set up the Aggies' final touchdown.

+  The Aggies also had a pair of interceptions -- Sean Porter's first career pickoff and a crucial INT by DeShazor Everett late in the fourth quarter. It was the first time since game three against Arkansas that the Aggies have won the turnover battle in a game.

+  Redshirt freshman WR Mike Evans had five catches for 40 yards against the Crimson Tide. He's had four or more catches in every game this season (10 games). Only Jeff Fuller's 11 straight games across the 2009-10 season with four or more is longer than Evans' streak.

+  Prior to today's game, the longest rush allowed by the Crimson Tide defense was 22 yards. QB Johnny Manziel gashed the Tide for a 29-yarder and a 32-yarder.

+  The Aggies took the opening drive and scored a touchdown for the seventh straight game.

+  The Aggies have scored first in the every game in 2012, and their streak of scoring first is now 15 games.

+  Kevin Sumlin's personal winning streak away from his home field stretched to 12 games -- six at Houston in 2011 and six at A&M in 2012.

+  The Aggies wrapped up their first perfect regular season road schedule since 1992 when the Aggies were 6-0 on the way to a 12-0 regular season.



+  Game captains for the Aggies were: senior center PATRICK LEWIS, senior safety STEVEN TERRELL, senior linebacker SEAN PORTER and senior wide receiver RYAN SWOPE. Alabama won the toss and elected to receive. A&M has lost the toss in eight straight games. 

+              Making his sixth 2012 start and 18th of his career at 12th Man was defensive back C.J. JONES, a senior from Klein Forest HS in Houston.

Post-Game Quotes


Head Coach Kevin Sumlin

On what it is like seeing everybody after the game:

"It is exciting. There's a lot of work that goes into that and a lot of emotion. I said on the field afterwards, I am happiest for the seniors and the experienced players that have been through a lot in their career. You think about it, they came to Texas A&M and probably never thought about playing at Alabama for a regular season game, and being a conference football game. To come in here and play them with them being number one in the country, and us being a part of the conference, it is just a tribute to those guys. They bought into what we ask them to do and then they went out and executed and lead our football team. I am happiest for them because they have been through a lot with coaching changes and close football games. To go on the road and win like that for those guys, it will be moment they will never forget."

On how this compares to some of the other great victories in his career:

"It is big, for us and our first year in the league, we haven't talked a lot about it. We are the new guys coming in and we have to prove ourselves and we have to continue to prove ourselves week in and week out. I said all week, 'we have gotten a little bit better every week.' The past two weeks we have played pretty well on the road and our guys are playing with a lot of confidence. For these guys and this group and what they have accomplished in 10 weeks. From the spring and all the changes they have been through, it is a big deal."

On whether this could be one of the biggest wins in school history:

"I can't say that it is that, we just got here. You have to check back to see what has happened. Coming into this year, I think the attitude around our program has changed certainly from the spring, to the summer, to the first part of the year. On Monday, I said early that these guys had played well enough to put us in a position to play meaningful football games in November. If you can do that, particularly with the first year in the program and guys start to build confidence, things like this happen. We have still got some games to play and who knows. These guys are enjoying playing football right now, whether we are at home or away. They play with a lot of confidence. And like I said, I think our seniors had a lot to do with that."

On whether he envisioned things like this happening when he took the job:

"I don't know, as a coach you always think that you are going to be able to win. We said from the beginning, and everybody kind of laughed, I didn't know we were going into the SEC when I took the job, we knew that. There's a lot things that go into a win like this, particularly on the road. We are a different team in week 10 than we were week one, particularly with the young guys in critical positions handling the ball, from wide receivers to kickers. But, our seniors, like I said, are the ones I am happiest with. They are in the locker room and when there is a change and things like that, the quicker you have the buy-in from the experienced players, the quicker you can have success. That's why we owe a lot to them."

#94 Damontre Moore, Defensive Lineman

On the team's performance overall:

"Man, words can't describe how I feel. I haven't felt this way in a long time. The last time I could honestly say that I felt like this is probably my freshman year against Nebraska, Oklahoma, those games.  This is one of those meaningful experiences where you reflect back on your college career, you say 'We did something great.' I think I speak for a lot of the team, and the upper classmen especially, that were there when we had the Oklahoma and Nebraska games, but this is probably the best one we've felt. Words can't even put in description of how I feel."

On the team moving forward:

"I think it does a lot for this program. It helps with recruiting, it helps with team chemistry, team bonding and just for future players, just to say that we did something great, and A&M is on the rise. We did a lot of things that a lot of people said we couldn't do, and now just to prove them wrong is a great feeling. It just does a lot for this program and it's going to help us get better guys in here. This will show us in the future, when we sit here saying that something's hard or something's impossible, nothings impossible; you can do anything you put your mind to."

#25 Ryan Swope, Wide Receiver

On his post-game celebration:

"This is a great feeling.  This will be up there with the top highlights of my career here at Texas A&M.  It was a very emotional game, back and forth. We got out to an early start, offensively and defensively, and we knew this team; they are ranked No. 1 for a reason.  Hats off to a very good Alabama football team."

On how his Quarterback showed up tonight:

"This game, I could see that Johnny (Manziel) had a different emotion about him. We knew what was at stake for us, we knew that we had to take over and start making plays.  All around it was a great game for special teams, the offense and the defense."



Head Coach Nick Saban

Opening statement:

"First of all, you have to really congratulate Texas A&M. They played a tremendous game and certainly outplayed us in the game today. Their offense is a very difficult offense to stop. We didn't start out very well defensively, giving up 20 points the first three times they had ball. We probably dug a ditch that we couldn't quite dig out of. You have to give them a lot of credit. We didn't play our best game today and we didn't execute the way that we needed to execute. That starts with me. I take full responsibility for not having our team ready to do the things that they needed to do to have a chance to be successful in this game. We really had a lot of undisciplined missed assignments. We didn't play with the kind of discipline that you have to play with, especially against their quarterback, whether it's pass rush lanes or executions of pressures or whatever it might be. Going 0-7 in the beginning of the game on third downs kept every one of their drives alive, which lead to points. We played better as the game went on, but we still didn't make the plays that we needed to make. We had an opportunity at the end of the game on fourth and two at the two-yard line, and we also had an opportunity to get the ball back with about 35 seconds left in the game with pretty good field position. We jumped offsides on a hard count which is something that you most certainly expect in a situation like that. 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.' The players are disappointed. There are a lot of lessons to be learned here relative to what we can do and what we didn't do, and if we are making the progress we need to make. This team can still accomplish a lot. We have two games left. Everyone needs to recommit themselves to playing a little better. We need to be a little more consistent and be somebody that they can trust us to put them in a good situation and we (as coaches) can trust them that they are going to go do that and execute it the way you need to in order to have a chance to be successful as a team. Two of the three national championship teams that I've coached both lost a game. This team still has an opportunity to win the West, go to the SEC Championship game and have a chance to win the championship game. There is still a lot for this team to play for, and a lot for them to set their mind to and recommit themselves to. This team has really done a good job all year long and worked hard. I was really concerned about this week. We seemed like we were a little bit out of gas. Texas A&M is a really good team and they played really well. Their quarterback is a fantastic player. He obviously made some plays that were great plays out there. You have to have a tremendous amount of discipline to play against a guy like that.  There were times when we didn't quite get it done the way we'd like to. Our players will recommit themselves and do the things that they need to do to in order to finish the season the right way, and hopefully have an opportunity to accomplish something of significance with this particular team.

On why Alabama struggles out of the gate to score in the second half:

"We have discussed it, talked about it, talked about it before this game. I think that we need to always have something that is a little bit different that we can go to. People are going to make adjustments at halftime to what you have been doing. It was really important that they got the stops that they got, because we got a couple of stops on defense to start the second half and really lost the momentum of the game when we never moved the ball offensively. That's something that we need to work on and improve and there is no reason for us not to be able to execute better when we come out in the third quarter."

On Texas A&M's third down conversion rate in the first half and if Johnny Manziel made something happen on broken plays:

"That's the kind of player he is. The players have to know that they have to contain him, that he is going to scramble and that he is very elusive. He is instinctive in the pocket, and he's also fast. If you get pushed by the quarterback, which we did once on third down, you don't stay in your pass-rush lane, he is going out the gate. We adjusted to that because he must have had 50 yards rushing in the first quarter. I think we adjusted to that a little bit better as the game went on, but again, everybody has to do their job. The guys that are in coverage when he does scramble, we let a guy loose in the endzone once, we let another guy loose on third down, their tendency is wanting to look back at the quarterback because he is scrambling - you have to cover your guy. We gave up a few plays on that as well. It is very difficult to play against a guy like that, very difficult to simulate it in practice - although Blake Sims did a pretty good job of simulating it for us. Again, I think when we look at the film we are going to give him a lot of credit for what he did. We are also going to see that there were a lot of times that we made mistakes that contributed to that as well." 

On the play calling on fourth and goal at the two yard line in the fourth quarter:

"I wish we would have run it, just like you, because passing it didn't work. If we would have run it you would be asking me why we didn't throw it. That is a play that we worked on, it was a pick play, they were in man-to-man. The guy that had the first guy is the guy who took the guy in the flats. They kind of pushed it off. We didn't execute the pick well enough and didn't get the play executed. I'm not going to criticize the call, but I'm like everybody else when it doesn't work, I wish we would have done something else."

On if the LSU game just took too much out of the team:

"I think the players refocused and really tried and it seemed like early in the week we were pretty good, but later in the week, emotionally, I'm not really talking about physically, we just couldn't seem to get the kind of mental energy and intensity that we needed to play against this kind of team. We have had a pretty tough stretch here, and that's no excuse but, Mississippi State, LSU, and this game - playing at Tennessee, which is a big game for us emotionally. We knew that this was going to be a difficult game and that they had a really good team. They had lost to two top-10 teams by three and five points and they are a better team now that they were then, because the quarterback is playing better every week. We were going to need to play our best game today and we didn't do it and that's my responsibility."

#32 C.J. Mosley, LB

On Texas A&M offensively:

"They were making the plays when they had to make them and half the time when didn't execute or we didn't cover the gaps right or cover the right man and when you do that they are going to make plays." 

On moving forward:

"We have to keep fighting, we have to keep playing.  Like last year, you knew what could happen but we can't control that.  You have to focus on the next game and come back strong and be ready for your last two games."

#42 Eddie Lacy, RB

On the Texas A&M defense:

"They were a good defensive team, they came out and they were ready to play. Offensively, we didn't come out and execute the way we were supposed to, the way we had planned all week, so it made the game a lot harder."

On the carryover of last week:

"After a win like we had last week, we think about it a lot.  But, it was something we put behind us because we have a game this week, too.  We had a game and we focused as much as we could on this week's game."

#7 Kenny Bell, WR

On the game:

"It was a tough one.  It was a tough loss for the whole team.  It just comes back to last year.  But, Texas A&M was a good team and they came out and competed with us until the very end.  They gave us what they got and next time we just have to finish."

On the battle to come back:

"We have been handling adversity all year.  We have had a lot of people coming after us.  But that's one thing about being Alabama, you are going to have a lot of people coming to your events and down your back.  We get taught that every day.  You just have to keep competing like we have been doing."

#92 Damion Square, DL

On Johnny Manziel's performance:

"He's really great at making plays for his teammates. In a couple situations we didn't do the right thing, and we didn't stand on our feet and get the tackle. He is a great athlete, but we can't worry about him. We have to worry about us. Coach can't come in on Monday and say it was him, because it was us. We have another game to play, and we got to go get ready for our next opponent and try to finish this out the best we can."

On how the defense played tonight:

"We played good in some spots, and we played with our backs against the wall sometimes and sometimes we didn't. You have to play in the situation you are in and not worry about what happened in the previous situation. If it's third and 2 then it's third and 2. If it's fourth and long then play fourth and long. When you play, you just have to play the situation in hand and I think we played good sometimes and bad sometimes."