TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It was as if the University of Alabama was warmly welcoming Texas A&M into the Southeastern Conference with open arms -- and then promptly wished it would go back to where it came from.
With freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel putting on another spectacular performance, and senior wide receiver Ryan Swope grabbing 11 passes for 111 yards, the No. 15 Aggies jumped out to a big lead in the first quarter and then did enough to keep the reigning champions at bay for a 29-24 upset win at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Although No. 1 Alabama (9-1, 6-1 SEC) can still clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game with a win against Auburn on Nov. 24, the loss made it highly likely that the league's run of six national titles is over.
Unlike the previous Saturday, when AJ McCarron was able to lead a game-winning drive against LSU, this time his last gasp was picked off in the end zone by Deshazor Everett. The Crimson Tide subsequently stopped A&M with 40 seconds remaining, but on the punt made an uncharacteristic neutral-zone infraction penalty that gave the Aggies a first down.
Manziel completed 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions, and also had 92 rushing yards.
Early on, the game was so lopsided it was like a crank for water well, with one side just turning it and the other letting it go.
Alabama goes three-and-out; Texas A&M went 73 yards on nine plays and runs in a Christie Michael 1-yard touchdown.
The Crimson Tide runs four plays, with wide receiver Kenny Bell getting drilled and the ball going to Sean Porter for the first interception of a McCarron pass this season; the Aggies needed just four plays to score on a Ryan Swope 10-yard touchdown reception.
Alabama goes three-and-out again; A&M drives 73 yards on 14 plays with Michel getting another 1-yard plunge.
Before Alabama even realized it wasn't in LSU any more, it had given up 172 yards or more points than it had to any opponent all season, and the lone highlight was a missed extra point by Taylor Bertolet.
But down 20-0 to the Aggies (8-2, 5-2, SEC), that's when the Crimson Tide started to muscle up, and led by its offensive line finally put together a 13-play, 75-yard drive with freshman running back T.J. Yeldon scoring on a 2-yard run.
With the defense finally stopping the A&M offense, including junior linebacker C.J. Mosley shoving Manziel out of bounds short of the marker on fourth down, 'Bama closed the deficit to 20-14 with a 10-play, 67-yard drive, capped by junior running back Eddie Lacy landing on the goal-line just before halftime.
Alabama threated to take control of the game in the third quarter, but could only muster a 28-yard field goal by Jeremy Shelley, which was quickly matched by the Aggies to make it 23-17.
Alabama's last gasp occurred after Bertolet missed a 29-yard field goal with 10:06 remaining, giving the Crimson Tide first down at its 20-yard line. After senior center Barrett Jones, last year's Outland Trophy winner, was called for holding on the first play, McCarron hit freshman Amari Cooper for a 50-yard completion.
But on the subsequent snap, freshman running back T.J. Yeldon was stripped of the ball by defensive back Steven Terrell, with senior cornerback Dustin Harris recovering.
Manziel only needed two plays to all but put the game away, a 42-yard sideline completion to Swope and 24-yard touchdown pass to Malcome Kennedy. McCarron countered with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Cooper, and a 54-yard bomb gave Alabama first down at the A&M 6, only to have McCarron's throw in the end zone to Kenny Bell picked off.
NOTES: Alabama trailed at halftime for the first time since at South Carolina on Oct. 9, 2010. ... McCarron's 309 passing yards were a career high. However, his team record streak of passing attempts without an interception was snapped at 291. ... With his ninth catch of the game in the third quarter, Ryan Swope overtook Jeff Fuller's Texas A&M school record of 233 receptions. ... The Alabama women's golf team received its national championship rings between the first and second quarters. Alabama also held a special reunion of Paul W. "Bear" Bryant's players from Texas A&M, and its first gathering of Crimson Tide All-American players.