Since 2009, six Heisman Trophy winners went on to win the national championship. That was not the case in 2012, but they did share a field.
On this day 10 years ago, it was the eventual Heisman winner who knocked off the eventual national champion. Johnny Manziel accounted for 344 yards and two touchdown passes as Texas A&M upset No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa, 29-24.
Setting the Stage
At 7-2, Texas A&M had won seven of eight games and was ranked No. 15 as it arrived at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 10, 2012. Kevin Sumlin’s team had already knocked off two ranked opponents, but had come up short in its only contest against a top-5 team, falling to LSU, 24-19.
At 8-0, Alabama had won its first seven games by 19 or more points, but had survived the week before against LSU. The Aggies appeared to be Alabama’s last true test before the SEC Championship. The reigning national champions, the Crimson Tide arrived on a 13-game winning streak dating back to 2011.
Aggies Hold On
Before the top-ranked Crimson Tide could even blink, they were in a 20-point hole. A pair of 1-yard touchdown runs from Christine Michael and a touchdown pass from Manziel to Ryan Swope helped Texas A&M race to a 20-0 lead after a quarter. By the second, however, Alabama had settled in.
2-yard touchdown runs from T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy cut the lead to 20-14 at halftime. The deficit remained six after an exchange of long field goal drives late in the third and early in the fourth quarter.
Alabama held the edge in total yardage, but three turnovers would ultimately be the difference.
Inside the Texas A&M 40-yard-line with less than 10 minutes left, Yeldon was stripped by A&M’s Steven Terrell. The Aggies recovered.
Two plays later, they were in the end zone.
A 42-yard pass from Manziel to Swope and a 24-yard touchdown strike to Malcome Kennedy pushed the lead to 29-17. Still, Alabama wasn’t done.
After a 54-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron to Amari Cooper cut the lead to five, a 3-and-out gave the ball back to Alabama. With just over four minutes to go, another 54-yard completion from McCarron — this one to Kenny Bell — put Alabama inside the Texas A&M 10.
The Aggies stiffened.
After three straight runs, Deshazor Everett intercepted McCarron in the end zone on fourth down. It was the Alabama quarterback’s second pick on a day where he passed for a then career-high 309 yards.
It looked as though the Crimson Tide would get one more possession, but an offsides penalty with Texas A&M in punt formation allowed the Aggies to run out the clock and preserve the win.
Box score and recap:
Following the contest, neither team would lose again.
Texas A&M closed the season on a 6-game winning streak as Manziel became the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. After blasting Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl to finish 11-2, the Aggies finished fifth in the polls — their best finish since 1956 under Paul “Bear” Bryant.
Nick Saban’s Alabama team bounced back with 49-0 wins over Western Carolina and Auburn before beating No. 3 Georgia in the SEC Championship and No. 1 Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl for the national championship. The title would be the Crimson Tide’s third in four years. Their lone loss from that campaign came to Manziel and Texas A&M on this day a decade ago.
Featured image courtesy of Texas A&M athletics