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Winners and Losers: Alabama wins, but Johnny Manziel amazes

Graham Watson
Dr. Saturday

Alabama and Texas A&M, the game we had all been waiting for since the schedules were announced, did not disappoint.

The two teams went back and forth and even though Alabama led the majority of the game, the result was still in question until the final whistle when the Crimson Tide claimed a 49-42 result.

Alabama will probably go on to play for the national championship – they have few tough games remaining - but what about A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel?

Anyone who watched Saturday’s game saw something very special.

Manziel is a magician.

You can hate him for his antics and his attitude, but you can’t hate his game because it is just spectacular to watch.

Every time he got the ball, you knew something exciting was going to happen. Even Alabama coach Nick Saban told A&M coach Kevin Sumlin that he’d shaved 10 years off his life.

Manziel completed 71.8 percent of his passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns. He also rushed for 98 yards. The Texas A&M offense racked up 630 total yards of offense, which was the most ever allowed by Alabama. Manziel’s performance was the second-best in SEC history.

But it was two interceptions – one in the end zone and one pick-6 – that ultimately cost the Aggies the game and there’s no doubt those will held against Manziel when it comes Heisman season.

And that’s too bad because we were all winners for watching what will probably be tabbed as the best game of the year.

Here are the rest of Week 3’s winners and losers:

WINNERS

The Pac-12: By the rankings, UCLA's win over Nebraska isn't an upset. But the total domination of the Bruins over the Huskers in the second half may solidify the conference's status as the one most likely to challenge the SEC for best conference in college football. Washington also went on the road (to Chicago) and took care of Illinois. Even Arizona State's controversial win over Wisconsin showed the Sun Devils were one of the nation's better teams. In a non-conference prove it weekend for the conference's depth, it passed the test.

Auburn: With the Auburn’s 24-20 win over Mississippi State, the Tigers have now won as many games as it did all of last season and earned one more win against a BCS opponent. They couldn’t have done it without quarterback Nick Marshall, who led the Tigers on a game-winning drive by completing 6-of-8 passes culminating in an 11-yard pass to C.J. Uzomah with 13 seconds remaining in the game.

Fordham: The Rams are 3-0. Why are they a winner? Well with 13 seconds left against Temple and trailing 29-23, quarterback Michael Nebrich rolled out to his right and fired a strike into the end zone. Sam Ajala leaped and brought it down for a TD with four seconds left and a 30-29 win. And for Temple? Well, you're not helping the American Athletic Conference very much.

Blake Bell, QB, Oklahoma: It was just a few weeks ago that Bell - affectionately known as the Belldozer - lost the starting quarterback competition to Trevor Knight. But Knight's struggles against West Virginia last weekend opened the door for Bell to take over the starting role and he made the most of it against Tulsa. Bell completed 27-of-37 passes for 413 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-20 win over Tulsa.

Eric LeGrand: The inspirational former Rutgers defensive lineman became the first Rutgers player to have his number retired on Saturday in a ceremony during halftime of the school's game against Eastern Michigan. LeGrand was paralyzed from the neck down three years ago against Army and vowed on Saturday again that he'd walk again in the future.

Former coach Greg Schiano, who is now with the Buccaneers, and former teammates gave video board tributes to LeGrand during the ceremony which saw his number unveiled near the top of High Point Solutions Stadium.

LOSERS

The Big Ten: On the flipside of the Pac-12, Nebraska getting destroyed in the second half by the Pac-12's third best team isn't a good sign, and certainly neither is Michigan escaping Akron at the Big House. Yeah you can play the post-Notre Dame letdown card, but Akron entered the game losing 27 straight games. Coming within a play of letting Akron break that streak isn't a letdown. It's a failure.

Kansas: Kansas’ 23-14 loss to Rice extended the Jayhawks FBS losing streak to two years and four days. Kansas’ last win against an FBS opponent was Nov. 6, 2010 when the Jayhawks rallied to beat Colorado 52-45 when the two schools were both in the Big 12. And Kansas had a chance against Rice. It was up 14-13 heading into the fourth quarter.

Texas: A week after it gave up 550 rushing yards to BYU, Texas improved against Ole Miss. Well, wait. Almost anything would be an improvement. The switch to new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson didn't help much as Ole Miss reeled off 279 rushing yards at 6.5 yards a pop for a 44-23 win. If you thought Mack Brown was on the hot seat after BYU, you're going to get scalded now.

Buffalo and Stony Brook: Buffalo sneaked past Stony Brook 26-23. In five overtimes. Yes, you read that correctly, five overtimes. Usually, we see five overtime games in the 30s and 40s (if not higher). Not this abomination. The overtime periods went 3-3, 7-7, 0-0, 0-0 and 6-3. How do you get four consecutive scoreless possessions? Three turnovers and a missed field goal will do it.

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(@insidetroy)

The allure of USC: Remember when USC was the hottest ticket in town? Yeah, well those days are long gone as evident by the sparse turnout for Saturday's contest at Boston College. It's too bad, too, because the Trojans actually played their best game of the season and found the offense that had been dormant all year. If you weren't in attendance on Saturday (and very few of you were) you might not see this kind of production again.

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Nick Bromberg contributed to this post

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