TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Johnny Football and SEC newcomer Texas A&M took down the biggest bully in their new neighborhood and left No. 1 Alabama with badly bruised national title hopes.
Johnny Manziel, better known around Texas as Johnny Football, staked the No. 15 Aggies to a 20-point lead in the first quarter, then Texas A&M held on to beat the No. 1 Crimson Tide 29-24 Saturday.
The freshman passed for 253 yards and rushed for 92.
"No moment is too big for him," first-year Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said.
Alabama did win last season's national title after losing at home to LSU.
"Two of the three national championship teams that I coached lost a game," said Tide coach Nick Saban, who won a title at LSU after losing two regular-season games. "This team still has an opportunity to win the West and go to the SEC Championship Game and win a championship. There's still a lot for this team to play for."
A.J. McCarron, who rescued Alabama last week with a 28-yard touchdown pass in the final minute for a 21-17 win at LSU, breathed life into Alabama with a 54-yard touchdown down the left sideline to Amari Cooper to make it 29-24 with 4:29 left.
A three-and-out by the Aggies put the ball in McCarron's hands again. He opened at the 40 with a 54-yard pass to Kenny Bell to the 6. But on fourth and goal, he rolled right and was intercepted by cornerback Deshazor Everett with 1:36 remaining.
Alabama forced a punt with less than a minute left, but A&M did not have to kick. On fourth down, the Tide was penalized for being offside, giving A&M a first down and a chance to kneel out the clock.
"The players were told, 'Make sure you stay onside. They are going to try to get you to jump offside with a shift or a motion or something,' " Saban said.
McCarron completed 21 of 34 passes for 309 yards but also was intercepted twice, ending his streak without one at 291 passes.
The Aggies, who came from the Big 12, previously had lost to top-10 teams LSU and Florida by a combined eight points, proving they're already challengers in the powerhouse SEC.
"We played with a chip on our shoulder," receiver Ryan Swope said. "We were just trying to make a statement that we could compete with anybody in this league."
Manziel completed 24 of 31 passes with two touchdowns and ran 18 times, including four sacks.
He kept finding Swope. They hooked up 11 times for 111 yards and a 10-yard touchdown in which Manziel bobbled the ball as defenders swarmed him, reversed field and spotted Swope alone in the back of the end zone.
The Aggies' first-quarter touchdown drives, giving them a 20-0 lead, stunned the Bryant-Denny Stadium crowd of 101,821. Christine Michael had a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs in the quarter along with Swope's touchdown.
"We weren't stunned at all," Tide linebacker C.J. Mosley said. "As a defense, we knew they were going to make plays. That's what their offense depends on. They got a great quarterback. They got a great running back. We just have to settle down and play Alabama football."
The rest of the game was an emotional roller coaster for Alabama fans who might have believed LSU was the toughest test on the road to another title.
Instead, it came a week later.
Said Saban: "They played a tremendous game and certainly outplayed us."