The bad news for Texas A&M is that the Aggies allowed 568 yards on 66 plays. When the Tide needed to throw, their offensive line picked up A&M's blitzes, and McCarron sliced the Aggies apart down the sidelines against man coverage. When Alabama needed to run, the line bulldozed Texas A&M's front seven so running backs T.J. Yeldon or Kenyan Drake or Jalston Fowler could blast through to the second level and beyond. Though A&M made things interesting in the fourth quarter, the Tide dictated the tempo for most of the game with a rushing attack that averaged 6.3 yards a carry
Alabama's best defense was its offense. The Tide gained 568 yards and kept Manziel pacing on the sideline with a couple of long drives. "With the type of offense A&M has, you have to eat up some clock and pound the ball," said McCarron, who passed for 334 yards.
Sometimes, they work – like in the first half, when Manziel uncorked a far more ill-advised pass than the third-quarter interception, and when it seemed he might actually be unstoppable. It was 14-all early in the second quarter, and a shootout seemed on the way – especially after Johnny Football happened.
"We knew we were going to have to play this kind of game to have a chance to win," said Saban. "I didn't think they were going to score 42 points -- but I kind of thought they'd score some points."
“We said going in that AJ was going to have to beat us, and he caught fire,” Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said. “You can't let a great quarterback like AJ McCarron stand back there and get absolutely no pressure at all,” Texas A&M defensive end Julien Obioha said.
"In our off week, we had some of the best practices we have had as a team," Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron said. "The first game was not perfect, and we worked to get some of the kinks out."
Saban has adapted to the changing sport. He may despise the up-tempo offense and the inability to get the defensive matchups he wants -- "You took 10 years off my life," Saban told Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin after the game -- but Alabama continues to win in this new world.
Manziel only answered questions about the game afterward. He was one of many Aggies reminding everyone that the loser of this matchup last year won a title. "This wasn't the Super Bowl," Manziel said. "Alabama lost a game last year and still went on to win the national championship. Our season isn't over."