by | College Football Insider

Improvisational Manziel, Texas A&M scramble Alabama's BCS title hopes


Johnny Football signals for a TD while taking apart the Bama defense. (US Presswire)  
Johnny Football signals for a TD while taking apart the Bama defense. (US Presswire)  

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Johnny Manziel is still scrambling -- all the way out of Bryant-Denny Stadium with Alabama's national championship hopes.

In a stunning turn of events in the SEC, Texas A&M combined an opportunistic defense with an efficient no-huddle attack that left arguably the nation's best defense wondering what the heck happened in a 29-24 win Saturday.

More on A&M's upset

Just when it looked like A&M couldn't deliver the knockout punch (thanks in part to kicker Taylor Bertolet), A&M's defense forced two turnovers in the fourth, including cornerback Deshazor Everett's interception of AJ McCarron on fourth-and-goal from the 2. Alabama ran play-action to the right, and Everett read the sideline pass perfectly.

McCarron's 201 passing yards in the fourth quarter weren't enough. A&M's offense capitalized on a T.J. Yeldon fumble with Manziel's 24-yard touchdown strike to Malcolm Kennedy in the corner of the end zone with 9:01 left that sealed the monumental win. A&M (8-2) never trailed after jumping to a startling 20-0 lead in the first quarter, three more points than Bama (9-1) had given up in a game all season.

Shrugging off previous second-half struggles against LSU and Florida, Manziel waited until the biggest stage to orchestrate his masterpiece. Alabama hadn't given up more than 60 yards rushing to a quarterback in almost three years, but Manziel cleared 80 in the first half. He completed 24 of 30 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns, along with 92 rushing yards on 16 carries. But the numbers don't fully illustrate the creativity he wielded on this day, scattering across the field to buy time until he squeezed passes into tiny lanes.

His video game moves on A&M's second touchdown were worth double-takes. Alabama had trouble containing Manziel in the pocket and making him one-dimensional. When the defensive end would rush too deep on the outside, Manziel would just slip to his left or right for a sizable gain. When he had time in the pocket, he delivered seamless l.

No huddle offense 1, Nick Saban 0. Alabama didn't go away quietly.

The Tide responded with a 54-yard touchdown pass to Amari Cooper and forced a three-and-out to get the ball back down 29-25 in the final five minutes. But two of the Tide's final three drives resulted in a turnover.

Alabama would need major help from unbeatens Kansas State, Oregon and Notre Dame to keep slim BCS title-game hopes alive.

Manziel wasn't the only standout for the Aggies. Receivers Mike Evans and Ryan Swope were superb, and the defense never let Alabama's running game break it down.

Jeremy Fowler is a national college football insider with Fowler joined CBS in 2012 after covering the Minnesota Vikings for the St. Paul Pioneer Press for two seasons and covering the Florida Gators for the Orlando Sentinel for two years. Fowler is also a contributor to the CBS Sports Network.

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