For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we take a look back at Johnny Manziel’s spectacular performance for Texas A&M against Alabama.
Back in 2012, Texas A&M was one of the new kids on the block as the SEC expanded to 14 teams. After Mike Sherman departed, new head coach Kevin Sumlin was looking for a spark on offense. The Aggies were facing questions at quarterback after losing Ryan Tannehill to the NFL. Jamiell Showers looked to be favorite to win the starting job, but a true freshman by the name of Johnny Manziel got the nod going into the season.
Manziel took over the college football world, leading A&M to a 7-2 record heading into a November battle against No. 1 Alabama. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide was undefeated at 9-0 and seemed well on their way to a perfect season and national championship appearance. Alabama was a 14-point favorite and while the Aggies had climbed to being ranked No. 15 in the country, the consensus was this would be a relatively easy win for the Tide.
Texas A&M proved they belonged early. Running back Christine Michael scored two touchdowns and Manziel hit Ryan Swope for a 10-yard score as the Aggies quickly jumped out to a 20-0 lead by the end of the opening quarter. However, Saban’s Tide refused to back down. The second and third quarters were all Alabama as running backs T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy scored rushing touchdowns and Jeremy Shelley nailed a 23-yard field goal. Quickly, Texas A&M’s lead was cut to just three.
Taylor Bertolet extended the lead to six and with just under nine minutes to play, Manziel hit Malcome Kennedy for a 24-yard touchdown to give the Aggies a 29-17 lead. A.J. McCarron would respond minutes later with a touchdown to Amari Cooper and on their last drive, Alabama still had a chance to win. On 4th and goal with just over a minute and a half to go, McCarron looked for Kenny Bell but was intercepted by Deshazor Everett sealing the upset.
Following their historic upset, Texas A&M would wind up having one of their best seasons ever. They finished the year ranked ninth in the country and defeated No. 11 Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl Classic. Manziel became the first true freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, cementing his status as one of the greatest college football legends.
The loss was Alabama’s only blemish on their record. The team would fall to No. 4 in the polls but won out to finish 11-1. After beating Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, the Crimson Tide captured their second straight national title with a 42-14 victory over No. 1 Notre Dame.
While this year’s game might lack the star power of that historic upset in 2012, that game will always be remembered by fans of both teams. It was the high-point for one program with a Heisman candidate and springboard for one of the great national title runs for the other.
Will Saturday’s game between Texas A&M and Alabama provide a game that will be looked back on years down the road as an instant classic just like this 2012 game?