Bama's aura of invincibility gone after near-miss

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with quarterback AJ McCarron during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama coach Nick Saban talks with quarterback AJ McCarron during the first half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell (7) is stopped by Texas A&M defender Toney Hurd Jr., during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama wide receiver Kenny Bell (7) is stopped by Texas A&M defender Toney Hurd Jr., during the second half of an NCAA college football game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama defensive lineman Ed Stinson (49) reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama defensive lineman Ed Stinson (49) reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates after a review proves an Aggie touchdown during the first half of their first SEC meeting against and Alabama in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. No. 15 Texas A&M defeated No. 1 Alabama 29-24.  (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) celebrates after a review proves an Aggie touchdown during the first half of their first SEC meeting against and Alabama in an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. No. 15 Texas A&M defeated No. 1 Alabama 29-24. (AP Photo/The Decatur Daily, Gary Cosby Jr.)

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) reacts on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama lost 29-24. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (10) reacts on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Alabama lost 29-24. (AP Photo/The Birmingham News, Vasha Hunt) MAGS OUT

Alabama coach Nick Saban reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game  against Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

Alabama coach Nick Saban reacts during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012. Texas A&M won 29-24. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Now it's out of Alabama's hands.

The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide has not only lost that aura of invincibility that seemed to surround Nick Saban's team through eight games and the final two minutes against LSU, but surrendered control of its fate in the national title derby. No. 9 Texas A&M made sure of that with Johnny Manziel's dazzling performance and a goal line stand in Saturday's 29-24 upset.

Bama (9-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) fell three spots from its nearly season-long perch atop the rankings and now must hope for some sort of shakeup among No. 1 Oregon, No. 2 Kansas State and No. 3 Notre Dame.

The word of the night from Saban was "recommit," and he used it several times after the game. The Tide nearly duplicated its last-minute game-winning drive of the previous week against LSU, but still had plenty of issues that had seldom crept up against lesser competition.

"I was really concerned about this week," Saban said. "We seemed like we were a little bit out of gas, and Texas A&M is a really good team and they played really, really well. Their quarterback's a really fantastic player and made some plays that were great plays out there. And you have to have a tremendous amount of discipline to play a guy like that, and there were times when we didn't quite get it done the way we'd like to.

"I think our players will recommit themselves and do the things that they need to do to finish the season the right way, and hopefully have an opportunity to accomplish something of significance with this particular team," Saban said.

Alabama does still control its own fate in the SEC, but has little chance in the next two games to make a statement for poll voters or the BCS computers. Next up is a visit from Western Carolina, a 1-9 FCS team. Then comes Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC).

A win over the Tigers puts the Tide into the SEC championship game against No. 5 Georgia on Dec. 1. Alabama had trailed only 15 seconds through eight games. Saban pointed out that his 2003 national champion LSU team lost 19-7 to Florida and last year's Tide team dropped a 9-6 overtime decision to LSU.

Alabama's offense has been inconsistent the past two games, with performances that went from sputtering to fantastic faster than Saban can scowl. Quarterback AJ McCarron pulled off a dramatic last-gasp rescue in Baton Rouge but was picked off at the goal line — his second of the game and the season — trying to do it again.

The defense has been vulnerable, too, even though Alabama and Notre Dame yield the nation's fewest points. Bama has allowed 435 and 418 yards against LSU and Texas A&M (8-2, 5-2) but still made a stop at the end that would have forced a punt except for an offsides penalty.

"We really had a lot of undisciplined, missed assignments, not playing with the kind of discipline you have to play with, especially against their quarterback, " Saban said.

Whatever sliver of an opening the Tide allowed, Manziel squirted through it. He passed for 253 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 92 yards, while completing 21 of his first 22 passes.

Manziel led touchdown drives on the Aggies' first three possessions against a team that had outscored opponents 104-6 in the opening quarter. He might have left Tuscaloosa a solid Heisman Trophy candidate, he definitely left with Alabama's respect.

"That's the kind of player he is," Saban said. "The players have to know that they have to contain him, that he's going to scramble, that he's elusive and he's instinctive in the pocket, and he's also fast. So if you get pushed by the quarterback, which we did once on third down, if you don't stay in your pass rush lane, he's going out the gate. We adjusted to that, because he must have had 50 yards rushing in the first quarter."

In fact, he ran for 74 and passed for a touchdown on a play when he bobbled the ball in a crowd before rolling away from the pressure. The Aggies also converted their first seven third-down attempts, including that 10-yard TD pass to Ryan Swope and Manziel's 32-yard scamper into Tide territory in the first quarter.

"Zero-for-seven in the beginning of the game on third down kept every one of their drives alive, led to points," Saban said. "We played better as the game went on, but we still didn't make the plays that we needed to make."

McCarron passed for 201 of his 309 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 50-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and a 54-yarder to Kenny Bell on the final drive that set up first down from the 6 before the fourth-down interception.

"Everybody needs to recommit themselves to playing better, being a little more consistent, and being somebody that they can trust us, we're going to put them in a good situation," Saban said.

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Comments » 10

chattabluetick writes:

Look at Kevin Sumlin A&M coach taking down the mighty Tide in Tusktown in his first try. Tennessee tried to hire him but wouldn't pony up the money to get him. What a mistake and now they are about to go coach hunting again. Kevin Sumlin now wouldn't touch this mess with a ten foot pole even for 4 mil a year. I guess they will find Bobby Petrino's number somewhere.

claiborneh writes:

"aura" is only created by the media. The media and fanbase decided TN would lose to Al. The team did not believe they would win. So they did not. Reality is what you make it. The next one who quotes the trite "it is what it is" is going to make me vomit. Even the hosts on calls said a reasonable standard is 2 SEC championships every 12 years. Nonsense. You shoot for the stars and maybe make the moon. If you are building 45 million dollar practice facilities, then you better be shooting for a national championship otherwise stop the insanity, get rid of the athletic department like Vanderbilt, and focus efforts elsewhere

jimr07 writes:

in response to chattabluetick:

Look at Kevin Sumlin A&M coach taking down the mighty Tide in Tusktown in his first try. Tennessee tried to hire him but wouldn't pony up the money to get him. What a mistake and now they are about to go coach hunting again. Kevin Sumlin now wouldn't touch this mess with a ten foot pole even for 4 mil a year. I guess they will find Bobby Petrino's number somewhere.

Can you provide documentation of your "inside" information? I never heard his name ever mentioned in connection with UT

PUL4VOLS writes:

"It is what it is." So Claiborne, you can vomit now. To compare what Sumlin had going into A&M with Tennessee's situation the past four years at least, is enough to make ME vomit. Sumlin has done a fantastic job. But he had a good nucleus and did not follow a disaster. Does that excuse Dooley? Noooooway, it merely shows how ridiculous the comparison is. As for Manziel, who could have known he would be the talent he is? He has done an amazing job. The BAMs must have gotten a little big for the britches and conceded the rest of their schedule as wins after LSU. That is always dangerous. A&M put it to them early and often and won. End of story, now let's move on. I am sure we have more Dooley-negativizing to come on here whatever article comes up. I think he is even being blamed for the Lady Vols' loss the other night.

Razzle writes:

I guess the hope that Bama moves to the NFL is dead now.

Snapshot writes:

Good for A&M. If LSU had not gone into a prevent def. last week bama would have two losses in a row. Maybe that loss will shut up some of those arrogant arse bammer fans.

AROUND THE BOWL AND DOWN THE HOLE! ROLL TIDE ROLL!!!!

stevefrommemphis writes:

Get used to it, Bama. A&M has money, A&M has power, and A&M has the whole state of Texas to find 25 5-star recruits per year who want to play in the SEC. A&M might even move the SEC Headquarters to Houston.

Meanwhile, tomorrow the SEC administrator who scheduled A&M at Alabama the week after Alabama at LSU is going to have a lot of explaining to do to Saban and Mal Moore. Slive is probably furious.

claiborneh writes:

in response to PUL4VOLS:

"It is what it is." So Claiborne, you can vomit now. To compare what Sumlin had going into A&M with Tennessee's situation the past four years at least, is enough to make ME vomit. Sumlin has done a fantastic job. But he had a good nucleus and did not follow a disaster. Does that excuse Dooley? Noooooway, it merely shows how ridiculous the comparison is. As for Manziel, who could have known he would be the talent he is? He has done an amazing job. The BAMs must have gotten a little big for the britches and conceded the rest of their schedule as wins after LSU. That is always dangerous. A&M put it to them early and often and won. End of story, now let's move on. I am sure we have more Dooley-negativizing to come on here whatever article comes up. I think he is even being blamed for the Lady Vols' loss the other night.

We are not comparing what Dooley inherited to what A&M has today. We are comparing what Dooley has Today to what A&M is today. Nobody believed TN would win. They did not either. So they lost. This is the culture now.

jimr07 writes:

And, according to the Bama SID they won the national championship any way.. because they should have..

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to jimr07:

Can you provide documentation of your "inside" information? I never heard his name ever mentioned in connection with UT

Yeah, he was mentioned the same night Cutcliffe was being interviewed, but UT didn't really pursue him that hard..I'm almost certain no offers were made.

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