Saturday, September 14, 2013

Texas A & M v. Alabama

There are many things about the American South that non-Southerners find difficult to understand, but perhaps one of the most difficult has to do with the attitude of Southerners toward authority.  Let us take, as an example, two men who were made into icons by white Southerners after the Civil War.  On the one hand, you have Robert E. Lee, a man famous for his dignity and personal integrity, someone with such personal discipline that he made it through West Point without a single demerit.  On the other hand, you have James Ewell Brown ("Jeb") Stuart, the eccentric cavalryman who went through war wearing a red-lined gray cape, yellow sash, and cocked hat with ostrich plume.  While Lee was working out plans in his tent, Stuart was off leading his men on wild rides which sometimes took them all the way around the Northern Army.

Now obviously these men represent very different images of authority.  For white Southerners, Lee symbolized the Perfect General, an older man of wisdom and honor, whose orders were to be followed without question.  Every time you see an SEC football coach with his honor guard of State Troopers, you are seeing shades of the old Lee-Worship.  And from General Bob Neyland to Bobby Dodd to Bear Bryant, Southerners have loved their strict football coaches.

On the other hand, Stuart is the clever rebel, the trickster, the man who thumbs his nose at rules and norms -- and, because of sheer talent and ability -- can get away with it (at least for awhile).  And the South has worked this icon into its culture as well -- from Burt Reynolds outwitting the police in his Trans Am to Kenny Stabler using a fake fumble to beat the San Diego Chargers.  Many of the South's legendary gridiron heroes -- Stabler, Bobby Layne, Joe Namath -- fit into this category.

Now how can the same culture love both Generals and rebels?  How can the same fans cheer for Bear Bryant and Kenny Stabler?  (You can't imagine this sort of inconsistency in the Midwest; it's impossible to imagine Kenny Stabler playing for Woody Hayes, or Alan Iverson getting along with Bobby Knight.)  And yet to Southerners this is not strange at all -- both the Stern Coach and the Rebel Player are icons in our society.

Personally, I don't think there's as much inconsistency here as some folks may think.  It seems to me that Southerners, more than most other Americans, are obsessed with the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate authority.  And they tend to judge legitimacy not merely by process, but by results.  If you want them to respect you, it's not enough to win the election or get the post through a fair process; you have to do a good job.

These days, Nick Saban has become an almost perfect symbol of legitimate authority, at least to Alabama fans.  In the last four years, his teams have won three national championships.  They play hard-hitting, straightforward football, with no odd uniforms or trash-talking.  The rest of the country may see Saban as cold, or relentless, or shifty, or boring, but to most SEC fans -- even the ones who hate him -- he's what a college football coach is supposed to be.

On the other hand, the NCAA and the national press are almost-perfect symbols of illegitimate authority, at least to most SEC fans.  Of course we have to make sure that everyone is playing under the same set of rules -- but to SEC fans, that's exactly what the NCAA and the press doesn't do.  To most Southerners, what is so maddening about these institutions is the inconsistency and favoritism that they appear to show.  You could never convince SEC fans that ESPN favorites like Duke or Notre Dame will be held to the same standards as Tennessee or Mississippi State.  And so my guess is that almost no one in the South was genuinely troubled by the countless allegations made by ESPN and other national media outlets over the summer against Johnny Manziel.  To most of us, the NCAA and the press are just a pack of Buford T. Justices, and we don't mind seeing Manziel subvert their authority.

So while it would be easy to build up today's contest as a battle between Saban's robots and A & M's outlaws, I think that would be a mistake.  My guess that almost every A & M fan would be happy to have Saban coaching the Aggies, and almost every Tide fan would be happy to have Johnny Football throwing passes for Alabama.  Furthermore, A & M and Alabama aren't really close enough for the two fan bases to get on top of each other in the way you need for true, deep down hatred.  And besides, each teams fans had a great time last year -- A & M beat Alabama, but Alabama won the National Championship.

At the same time, SEC fans can't help but be excited to see whether Saban's defense has finally figured out how to stop Manziel, or whether Johnny Football (has there ever been a better nickname?) can pull off the upset one more time.

Here is how each team has done since the beginning of last season (home teams listed first):

ALABAMA (2012 SEC Champs and National Champs):
09/01/2012:  Alabama 41 - 14 Michigan (Arlington, Tex.) 
09/08/2012:  Alabama 35 - 0 W. Kentucky
09/15/2012:  Arkansas 0 - 52 Alabama
09/22/2012:  Alabama 40 - 7 Florida Atlantic
09/29/2012:  Alabama 33 -14 Mississippi
10/13/2012:  Missouri 10 - 42 Alabama
10/20/2012:  Tennessee 13 - 44 Alabama
10/27/2012:  Alabama 38 - 7 Mississippi St.
11/03/2012:  Louisiana St. 17 - 21 Alabama
11/10/2012:  Alabama 24 - 29 Texas A & M
11/17/2012:  Alabama 49 - 0 W. Carolina
11/24/2012:  Alabama 49 - 0 Auburn
12/01/2012:  Alabama 32 - 28 Georgia (Atlanta) (SEC Championship)
01/07/2013:  Alabama 41 - 14 Notre Dame (Miami) (National Championship)

08/31/2013:  Alabama 35 - 10 Virginia Tech (Atlanta)

TEXAS A & M (2012 Cotton Bowl Champs):
09/08/2012:  Texas A & M 17 - 20 Florida
09/15/2012:  So. Methodist 3 - 48 Texas A & M
09/22/2012:  Texas A & M 70 - 14 S. Carolina St.
09/29/2012:  Texas A & M 58 - 10 Arkansas
10/06/2012:  Mississippi 27 - 30 Texas A & M
10/13/2012:  Louisiana Tech 57 - 59 Texas A & M
10/20/2012:  Texas A & M 19 - 24 Louisiana St.
10/27/2012:  Auburn 21 - 63 Texas A & M
11/03/2012:  Mississippi St. 13 - 38 Texas A & M
11/10/2012:  Alabama 24 - 29 Texas A & M
11/17/2012:  Texas A & M 47 - 28 Sam Houston St.
11/24/2012:  Texas A & M 59 - 29 Missouri
01/04/2012:  Texas A & M 41 - 13 Oklahoma (Arlington, Tex.) (Cotton Bowl)

08/31/2012:  Texas A & M 52 - 31 Rice
09/07/2012:  Texas A & M 65 - 28 Sam Houston St.

Alabama is favored by 9 points, and the over-under is 64.  That would work out to an Alabama victory by a score of something like 37-27.

Any further thoughts will go into the comments.

100 comments:

  1. Speaking of illegitimate authority, the Kentucky Wildcats were dominated at home, and lost to Louisville 27-13. In Lexington, this will be regarded as a great triumph. (In Louisville, it will be seen as a disappointment, which tells you all you need to know about these two programs.)

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  2. By the way, last year was A & M's first year in the SEC. Their football team won at Alabama, and their basketball team won at Kentucky. That's something to be proud of.

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  3. I don't like most TV announcers, and these days I usually watch sports without sound, or with radio announcers. But I do like Verne Lundquist, so I'm rolling with CBS audio and video today.

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    1. Hurrah. I love it that we all agree that Verne is terrific.

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    2. My favorite thing is when all three of us agree. My second-favorite thing is when one of says something that only one of the other cares about but that other agrees. My next-favorite thing after that is being part of the two when two agree and leave the third out in the cold. After that, it would be when one of us says something that neither of the other two care about. Then (fifth place) there's one of you two say something and the other disagrees--but I don't care. Then (sixth place) there's I say something and one of you disagrees but the third doesn't care. Then (seventh) there's one of you say something and I disagree but the third doesn't care. Finally, there are those awful moments at the HP when you two agree on something and I disagree. I hate that. That's 200th place.

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  4. Verne tells us that Johnny Manziel is the "most polarizing figure in college sports." Gary Danielson says that the Alabama players are glad to be playing Manziel -- "You want to play the best and beat the best."

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    1. You had an excellent point earlier about "Johnny Football" being a great nickname. It's almost so great, in fact, that it doesn't seem real.

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  5. Uniform watch:

    Alabama wearing crimson helmets with white numerals, white shirts with crimson numerals, white pants with crimson stripes.

    Texas A & M wearing white helmets with maroon TAM logo, maroon shirts with white numerals, and white pants with maroon stripes.

    Good to see both teams going with traditional uniforms. Nebraska wore black jerseys (!) today against UCLA, and the Cornhuskers were blown out at home.

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  6. Texas A & M plays at Kyle Field. The stadium is named for E.J. Kyle, an Aggie grad from 1899 who became a professor of horticulture at the school. In the early 1900's, Kyle took a portion of the campus that had been assigned to him for agricultural use, and turned it into an athletics field. He spent $650 of his own money to build seats for 500 people. The Aggies have played there ever since.

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  7. A & M takes the opening kickoff and starts at its own 16.

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  8. Good night! On that drive, Johnny Manziel of Tivy High School in Kerrville, Texas looked like the greatest football player of all time. He ran twice for 12 yards, and went 3-3 for 68 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Clear of Central High School in Memphis, Tenn. A & M leads 7-0 with 12:21 to go in the first quarter.

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    1. I've missed his career thus far, and it's my loss.

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  9. Now Alabama has the ball, and the Tide have just been called for back-to-back false start penalties. Alabama is looking at 2d and 13 on its own 7, and this is not how the Tide wanted to start.

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  10. On 3d and 11, Alabama calls a draw and gets nothing. The Tide will punt. Gary Danielson says that "this is a bad, bad start for Alabama."

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  11. Alabama punts, and Johnny Football will take over from his own 41.

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  12. On first down, Manziel runs for a first down, carrying the ball to the Alabama 48.

    Then he runs again, down to the Alabama 35.

    Then he hits Mike Evans of Ball H.S. in Galveston, Tex. with a pass down to the Alabama 1.

    And after an incomplete pass, Ben Malena of Cedar Hill H.S. in Cedar Hill, Tex. trots in with A & M's second touchdown of the game.

    How easy it this? A & M leads 14-0.

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  13. There are 7 minutes and 47 seconds left in the 1st quarter and it's clear that whatever Saban and company were planning to do, it hasn't worked.

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  14. Now Alabama is starting to move the ball. They have a first down at the A & M 34.

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  15. And now they have a first down at the A & M 22.

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  16. And now they have a touchdown. A.J. McCarron of Saint Paul's Episcopal School in Mobile, Ala. throws a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Norwood of D'Iberville H.S. in D'Iberville, Miss. Cade Foster of Southlake Carroll H.S. in Southlake, Tex. tacks on the extra point. Now A & M leads 14-7 with 5:24 to go in the first quarter.

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  17. Well, this is weird. Alabama does an odd, line-drive kickoff and A & M fumbles the kickoff out of bounds at its own 2. So Manziel is 98 yards from the Alabama goal.

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  18. On 3d and 2 from the 10, Manziel scrambles and scrambles . . . and then hits Mike Evans, who is tackled at the A & M 44. Evans now has 4 catches for 135 yards.

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  19. And now A & M is rolling again. They now have a first down at the Alabama 34.

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  20. And now Manziel hits Evans again -- but this time Evans is called for offensive pass interference. Alabama has changed its defense, and now has Deion Belue (its top defensive back, from Tuscambia, Ala. and Northeast Mississippi Community College) guarding Evans all over the field.

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    Replies
    1. Belue and Evans both wear number 13, which is sort of cool.

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  21. The pass interference call killed A & M's drive, and the Aggies will punt from the Alabama 48. The punt goes into the end zone.

    43 seconds left in the first quarter.

    Texas A & M 14 - 7 Alabama

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  22. On 3d and 10 from his own 20, McCarron hits Amari Cooper of Northwestern H.S. in Miami, Fla., who gets a first down at the Alabama 41. That was a big play, as the Tide did not want to go three and out.

    And that's the end of the first quarter.

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  23. A few plays into the second quarter, A.J. McCarron throws a 44-yard pass to DeAndrew White of North Shore H.S. in Houston, Tex., who is far behind the Aggie defense, and who trots in for the game-tying score. With 14:15 to go in the 2d quarter:

    Texas A & M 14 - 14 Alabama

    What a great game.

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    1. I should make clear that this pass was actually set up by a flea-flicker.

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    2. If we could post pictures in comments, I'd scan in the NFL Strategy Flea Flicker play card and post as a comment.

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  24. QB watch:

    Manziel: 9-12, 154 yards, 1 TD

    McCarron: 8-12, 142 yards, 2 TD's

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  25. Now Gary Danielson wonders if A & M's offense will slow down from its usual pace in order to protect the Aggie defense.

    They don't seem to be going any slower -- a pass and a defensive holding call on another pass give the Aggies a first down at the A & M 47.

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  26. And now Manziel hits Deral Walker of Hillsboro H.S. in Hillsboro, Tex., for a first down at the Alabama 36.

    But then the Alabama defense stiffens, and the Aggies face a 3d and 8 at the Alabama 34.

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  27. On 3d and 8, Alabama has Manziel trapped. He is just about to be sacked, and is finally chased all the way back to his own 40 -- 26 yards behind the line of scrimmage. He then heaves the ball far down the field -- where it is CAUGHT by Edwin Pope of Carthage H.S. in Carthage, Tex. in traffic at the Alabama 22. FIRST DOWN, AGGIES!

    That was an amazing play -- that's one for the year-end highlight reel.

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    1. He threw that ball 45 yards off his back foot while being chased by about five guys.

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    2. Edwin Pope is my favorite sports columnist of all time. Not the same guy, though. My guy is from Georgia, and he's got to be about 80.

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  28. After two carries (one by Manziel), A & M has a first and goal at the 8.

    First down: Manziel carries to the 4.

    Second down: Manziel does that silly lob pass to the corner of the end zone, but the ball is overthrown and it is INTERCEPTED by Cyrus Jones of Gilman H.S. in Baltimore.

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    1. Gary Danielson points out that Manziel was just too confident, and tried to make a much harder play than he needed.

      But it was a huge turnover. Alabama gets the ball at its own 20 with 10:40 left in the 2d quarter.

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  29. And now here comes the Tide. McCarron hits O.J. Howard of Autauga Academy in Prattville, Ala. with a 27-yard pass. The Tide have a first down at their 49.

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  30. And now Alabama has the lead. McCarron throws a screen pass to Kenny Bell of Rayville H.S. in Rayville, La., and Bell races 51 yards untouched to PUT ALABAMA ON TOP. With 8:55 to go in the 2d quarter:

    Texas A & M 14 - 21 Alabama

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  31. Danielson is still worried that A & M's hurry-up offense will now work against them, but Johnny Football comes out pitching again. On first down, Alabama is called for a (controversial) targeting foul, which means that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, of Dr. Phillips H.S. in Orlando, Fla. -- who is one of Alabama's best defensive backs -- HAS BEEN EJECTED FROM THE GAME.

    Gary Danielson is stunned -- he didn't think it should have been a penalty at all. The play is under review.

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    1. "Ha Ha Clinton-Dix"? That's better than "Johnny Football."

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  32. Danielson reminds us that Clinton-Dix is one of the most important players in Alabama's secondary.

    After the review, the targeting foul has been overturned. But A & M still gets credit for defensive pass interference, and that Aggies have the ball at their own 34.

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  33. On first and 10 from the Aggie 34, Manziel is finally caught by the Alabama defense, and tackled back at his own 29.

    He then comes back with a pass to the Aggie 38.

    So now it's 3d and 6 for A & M.

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  34. Everyone for A & M is covered, Manziel tries to run for it, but the Tide tackle him at the 38. For the third time in a row, the Alabama defense has held.

    The Aggies punt, and Alabama will get the ball at its own 7.

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  35. Now Danielson urges the Tide to use up some clock.

    The Tide oblige with back-to-back runs. First down at the Alabama 20. 6 minutes left in the 2d quarter.

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  36. T.J. Yeldon of Daphne H.S. in Daphne, Ala. runs for another first down to the Alabama 33.

    At this point, with 5:21 left in the first quarter. A & M calls time.

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  37. Big 3d down coming up. Alabama has the ball at the A & M 44 on 3d and 4.

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  38. McCarron hits Brian Vogler of Brookstone H.S. in Columbus, Ga. First down at the Aggie 32. There is 2:44 left in 2d quarter.

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  39. Alabama keeps running the ball, and now has a first and goal at the Aggie 5 with less than 1 minute to go.

    Gary Danielson is very pleased with Alabama's clock management.

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  40. And then Yeldon blasts in from four yards out, and Alabama has its fourth touchdown in a row.

    Yeldon then does the money sign and a double-throat slash, which will earn Alabama a 15-yard penalty on the kick-off.

    With 45 seconds to go in the 2d quarter:

    Texas A & M 14 - 28 Alabama

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  41. Alabama gets the ball to start the second half, so A & M will really want to do something in these last 45 seconds.

    Because of Yeldon's penalty, Alabama must kick off from its own 20.

    A & M runs the kickoff back to the Aggie 34, and Johnny Football will see what he can do from there.

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  42. After two passes, A & M is on the Alabama 41 with 15 seconds left.

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  43. But the next pass is incomplete, and now there are only 9 seconds left.

    On the next play, Manziel does a great scramble and finds a receiver in the middle of the field. He gets down to about the Alabama 20 -- but the half comes to an end and A & M cannot score.

    That last play symbolized the game so far -- great plays by Manziel, but better team play by Alabama.

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  44. Total Yards:

    Texas A & M: 328
    Alabama: 338

    Turnovers:

    Texas A & M: 1
    Alabama: 0

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  45. QB Watch:

    Manziel: 17-22, 254 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int., QB rating of 180.2, 61 yds rushing

    McCarron: 13-18, 250 yds, 3 TD's, 0 Int., QB rating of 243.9

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  46. OK, Alabama starts the second half at its own 36 and they can almost put this game away with another touchdown.

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  47. But instead, Alabama goes three and out, along with a false start penalty. So the Aggies are still alive.

    A & M fields the punt and will start at its own 34.

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  48. A & M gets off to a good start, as Manziel runs for 9 yards.

    But on second and 1, the roof caves in. Manziel throws a long pass downfield, the ball is tipped, pops up into the air, and is INTERCEPTED by Vinnie Sunseri of Northridge H.S. in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Sunseri then RETURNS THE BALL 73 YARDS FOR A TOUCHDOWN TO PUT ALABAMA UP 35-14.

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  49. A & M caught a terrible break on that interception, as a pretty good pass ended up getting tipped into the air. But it was unforgivable for the Aggies to allow Sunseri to run that ball all the way back -- someone has to make a play there.

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    1. I'm pretty sure UCLA had a quarterback named Sunseri in the late '70s or early '80s. I wonder if they're connected.

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  50. To give Manziel credit, he did try to make a tackle, but missed. Still, I think someone has to run Sunseri down.

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  51. Meanwhile, early in the third quarter, Oregon is beating Tennessee 45-7. CBS reports that the Oregon fans are chanting "We Want Bama!"

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  52. With help from a defensive pass interference, A & M has moved the ball down to the Alabama 14. There is 9:43 left in the third quarter. Gary Danielson is happy A & M isn't going faster; he says their defense can't stop Alabama at all.

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  53. Johnny Football throws an 11-yard pass to Malcome Kennedy of Cayuga H.S. in Cayuga, Tex. for a touchdown -- the first one A & M has scored in awhile. With 9:33 left in the 3d quarter:

    Texas A & M 21 - 35 Alabama

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  54. Now Gary Danielson tells us that there's a lot of time left in this game. Just a few minutes ago, he seemed to be urging A & M to run out the clock.

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    1. I remember watching Gary Danielson one Sunday with the Lions--he might've been a rookie--and Dad was just certain he was going to be one of the NFL's next great quarterbacks.

      Dad felt the same at different points about John Huarte, Scott Hunter and David Whitehurst. When Dad heard the Dolphins' quarterback was Damon Huard after Dan Marino had retired, he was all excited because he thought John Huarte was now, finally, getting his big chance.

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  55. I think Oregon has been wanting the chance to play an SEC school -- they're beating Tennessee 52-7 early in the 3d quarter.

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  56. On the other hand, Danielson may be right about the A & M defense. Alabama already has two more first downs and they are out to their 39.

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  57. Verne just said, "A & M defense not the best I've ever seen."

    That's an understatement, as Alabama is just grinding down the field -- mainly with hand-offs to T.J. Yeldon. Now they have a 1st and goal at the 4.

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  58. And now they've scored again. Kenyan Drake of Hillgrove H.S. in Powder Spring, Ga., dashes in from the four-yard line. That was a very easy drive.

    With 4:16 left in the 3d quarter:

    Texas A & M 21 - 42 Alabama

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  59. Meanwhile, Oregon leads Tennessee 59-7 with 2:12 to go in the third quarter.

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  60. For the record, I think Johnny Manziel has been tremendous in that game. He really only made one bad play (the interception in the end zone), and he's made a ton of great plays.

    The real problem is that A & M's defense has been completely useless. Alabama has 421 total yards, and there's still almost 20 minutes left in the game.

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  61. The two interceptions, of course, really hurt A & M. But I don't think anyone who's watched the game up to this point could fairly argue that the Aggies are better than Alabama.

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  62. With the game seemingly out of reach, Verne is now dropping references to the football program at Texas Lutheran (Verne's alma mater). He tells us that TLU has a big game with Trinity tonight.

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  63. And that's the end of the third quarter:

    Texas A & M 21 - 42 Alabama

    So far, this game has not worked out the way Aggie fans had hoped.

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  64. But then A & M takes the ball and zips down the field. Manziel tops off the drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kennedy. With 13:20 to go in the game:

    Texas A & M 28 - 42 Alabama

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  65. Moving with remarkable ease, Alabama strolled down to the Aggie 1. But on second and goal from the 1, T.J. Yeldon FUMBLED the ball. A HUGE break for the Aggies, who take over at their own 4.

    There is 8:42 left. Gary Danielson says, "Hold onto your hats, it's about to get wild."

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  66. It doesn't get wild on the first two plays. Manziel throws an incomplete pass and the Aggies run for one yard.

    But on 3d and 9 from the Aggie 5, MANZIEL THROWS A 95-YARD TOUCHDOWN PASS TO MIKE EVANS. The Alabama back who had been assigned to Evans, Deion Belue, got hurt toward the end of the second quarter, and Evans is free again. He caught that ball in stride at the Aggie 40 and ran untouched the rest of the way.

    Less than a minute of game time ago, Alabama had a first and goal at the Aggie 1, and was about to go up by three touchdowns. Now, with 8:04 left in the game, the Aggies are within 7 points:

    Texas A & M 35 - 42 Alabama

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  67. Evans now has 6 catches for 247 yards.

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  68. A & M tries to kick it short, but the kickoff by Taylor Bertolet of Exeter Township H.S. in Reading, Pa. goes out of bounds.

    Alabama takes over at its own 35 with 8:04 left.

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    1. Thank you so much for putting in all of these high schools and towns. I really am enjoying thinking about each of these places. Reading, Pa., is one of America's great towns.

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  69. Here's what Alabama does:

    1/10 Ala 35: Yeldon 13-yd run
    1/10 Ala 48: Yeldon 11-yd run
    1/10 TAMU 41: Vogler catch for no gain
    2/10 TAMU 41: Ala illegal shift
    2/15 TAMU 46: Howard 26-yd pass from McCarron
    1/10 TAMU 20: Fowler 8-yd run
    2/2 TAMU 12: Yeldon 5-yd run
    1/G TAMU 7: Yeldon 1-yd run
    2/G TAMU 6: Yeldon 1-yd run

    And at this point, the Aggies called their first timeout of the half. There is 2:34 left in the game.

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  70. So now it's third and goal from the 5. Danielson suggests Alabama throw a pass to the tight end, as A & M has got all 11 guys trying to stop the run.

    Danielson was close. The Tide do a play-action pass, and McCarron flips the ball to Jalston Fowler of Vigor H.S. in Mobile, Ala., who dashes in for the score.

    Nice moment for Mobile there, with both McCarron and Fowler coming from that town.

    It's hard to overstate how great that drive was. Alabama had just suffered a disastrous fumble, followed by a 95-yard pass. The Aggie fans were going nuts. And Alabama put together an almost perfect drive.

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  71. With 2:28 left:

    Texas A & M 35 - 49 Alabama

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  72. With 27 seconds left, Manziel hurls another long pass to Evans, who catches it at the Alabama 4.

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  73. With 15 seconds left, Manziel throws a 4-yard pass to Kennedy for ANOTHER TOUCHDOWN. That is his third touchdown pass OF THE QUARTER. He is what we thought he was.

    With 15 seconds to go:

    Texas A & M 42 - 49 Alabama

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  74. And now we have the onside kick. A & M has two kickers, so you can't tell where the ball is going.

    But it goes to Alabama's Amari Cooper, who scoops it up just as an Aggie is about to pound him. That was Alabama's last great play of the day, and it was a big one.

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  75. Well, this was one of the most anticipated regular-season games I can remember, and it more than lived up to the hype. Manziel played one of the best games I have ever seen. Alabama is a great, great team, with a very solid defense, and they simply could not figure out how to stop him. Look at Manziel's numbers:

    28-39, 464 yds, 5 TD's, 2 INT's, QB Rating of 203.8, and 98 rushing yards.

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  76. So to win this game, Alabama's offense had to be almost perfect -- and except for a fumble by T.J. Yeldon, they were. Yeldon had 25 carries for 149 yards. And look at the numbers for McCarron:

    20-29, 334 yds, 4 TD's, 0 INT's, QB rating of 211.2

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  77. In the past, I have been critical of Big XII football, in part because it produces so many of these high-scoring affairs. And I do think that A & M showed a Big-XII type defense that was often overpowered by Alabama's offensive line. But on the other side of the ball, I thought Alabama threw everything it had at Manziel, and he was just too good for them. Alabama's guys were not getting pounded by the A & M line, they weren't making big mistakes in coverage, they weren't missing tackles -- but they just couldn't stop Manziel. I was amazed at how good he was.

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  78. On the other hand, give Alabama credit for being tougher and more disciplined than A & M, and for resisting all opportunities to fold under the pressure. Manziel is a great player, but Alabama is a great team, and that was the difference -- just as it should have been.

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  79. I've always thought of Lee as representing the man who fights for duty and honor, and Stuart the man who fights for cause.

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    1. I think you can look at them in that framework as well.

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  80. What a report. That was a delight. Well done, Go Heath.

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