No. 1 Alabama escaped with a 24-20 win over Texas A&M on Saturday night despite four turnovers and two missed field goals.
Texas A&M got to the Alabama 2-yard-line with three seconds left thanks to a pass interference call in the end zone on what would have been a game-sealing interception. But Haynes King’s pass to the right pylon was high and wide and incomplete.
King was looking for freshman Evan Stewart, who was in single coverage at the goal line. Stewart had made an amazing catch in double coverage earlier in the drive and had been A&M’s best wide receiver throughout the game.
It was a call that didn’t thrill Heisman winner and former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel.
The Crimson Tide didn’t have star quarterback Bryce Young on Saturday night. Young missed the game after spraining the AC joint in his right throwing shoulder in Week 5 against Arkansas. He warmed up in full uniform but didn’t throw any passes during pregame routines. That gave Jalen Milroe the start, and he fumbled twice in the first half and also threw an interception.
A&M could have pulled off the upset easily if it wasn’t for the same offensive struggles that have plagued the Aggies all season long. A&M did a good job capitalizing on Alabama’s turnovers — the game was tied 14-14 after A&M turned short fields from Milroe fumbles into touchdowns — but was unable to sustain much other offensive success.
King threw for 253 yards — the most he’s thrown for against an FBS opponent this season. But he needed 46 passing attempts to achieve that yardage total and completed just 25 of them with two touchdowns and one interception. A&M averaged less than five yards per play as it struggled to get anything going on the ground. King was also pressured consistently by Alabama’s defensive line. The Tide had over a dozen quarterback hurries in the game.
That defensive effort was needed because of Alabama’s offensive struggles. Milroe was just 12-of-19 passing for 111 yards and Alabama had to do most of its damage on the ground. The Tide rushed for 288 yards to A&M’s 70 as Jahmyr Gibbs rushed 21 times for 154 yards and Milroe had 83 rushing yards himself.
The game looked a lot like the 2021 matchup between the two teams did. A&M won that game with a field goal as time expired after scoring 10 points in the final three minutes of the game. The Aggies got a heroic performance from backup quarterback turned starter Zach Calzada a season ago as he was great over the final minutes of the game.
But while A&M closed the deal a season ago, it couldn’t do that in 2022 despite Alabama’s struggles. Will Reichard missed two second-half field goals as 10 of Alabama’s drives failed to end with points.
Alabama fans are sure hoping that Young is healthy enough to return what could be an epic matchup with Tennessee in a week. The Vols are 6-0 after beating LSU and it’ll be the first matchup with both teams ranked in the top 10 since 2016. Alabama won that game in Knoxville 49-10 as part of an ongoing 15-game win streak in the series . Nick Saban has never lost to Tennessee in his Alabama tenure. If Young doesn’t return in a week, that streak could be in serious jeopardy based on how well the Vols are playing.