When the dust cleared on the Alabama-Texas A&M game, Nick Saban shook Kevin Sumlin’s hand and said, “You took about 10 years off my life.”
That was the type of game those two teams produced as the Crimson Tide came out ahead 49-42 and got their revenge for last year’s upset.
Alabama led the game 42-21 at the end of the third quarter, but the Crimson Tide never felt comfortable as the Aggies, behind Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, kept coming and coming, putting pressure on the Alabama offense to perform on every possession.
[Photos: College football - Best of Week 3]
And Tide quarterback AJ McCarron was up to the challenge.
After being the goat in this game a year ago, McCarron completed 20-of-29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns, including the game-winning score in the final minutes of the game.
The Crimson Tide came into the game with a lot of questions on offense after a lackluster effort against Virginia Tech in the season opener. However, after a bye week to work out the kinks, quarterback McCarron answered any doubters.
Still, Manziel did his best to work his magic. He whirled and twirled and made ridiculous passes to keep his team in the game, but he also threw two uncharacteristic interceptions – one in the end zone and one that was returned for a touchdown. He finished with 562 total yards of offense and five touchdowns, but his two mistakes made the difference and might have even cost him his second Heisman Trophy.
A year ago, Manziel’s play in this game sealed his Heisman win and voters have been looking for an on-field reason to cross Manziel off their ballots.
For an Alabama team that is seeking its third consecutive national title, this was the only real test on the schedule besides the potential SEC title game. The Tide does face No. 8 LSU on Nov. 9, but the rest of the schedule is woefully bad.
If this Alabama team can put out this effort on a consistent basis, it will be hard to prevent the Tide from a three-peat.