The SEC’s streak is dead.
Barring massive amounts of chaos—which is all very possible in this glorious game—the SEC’s run of six consecutive national championships will come to an end now that Alabama, the conference’s last unbeaten team, has fallen.
SEC fans have one man to blame in all of this, and this man made recent headlines by dressing up as Scooby-Doo just a few weeks ago.
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny “Football” Manziel, whose history in the country’s most prestigious conference is only just beginning, single-handedly shook up college football in one afternoon. His impact in 60 minutes stretches well beyond the SEC.
The Aggies’ 29-24 win at Alabama is more than just one victory—it’s history in the making and also in the breaking.
Heading into one of the toughest environments in college football, A&M was the first to throw body blows. They moved the ball against one of the nation’s best defenses with relative ease, and, for a while, it looked like they would cruise. They outscored Nick Saban’s group 20-0 in the first quarter and appeared stout on both sides.
Alabama battled back, as you would expect they would, and this game never really felt out of reach. Even when they were down big early on, you could anticipate the comeback. And even when they went down two scores deep in the fourth quarter, you could sense that the game still hung in the balance.
A goal-line interception by A.J. McCarron late in the fourth quarter, however, eventually did last year’s title-winning team in. A&M was stopped following the turnover and was ready to punt the ball back to Alabama, but a shocking offsides call gave the Aggies an automatic first down on 4th-and-1 with less than a minute remaining.
Out of timeouts, Alabama was out of chances. History was halted in 60 minutes, and A&M—led by its incredibly gifted freshman quarterback—was happy to break up its own conference dominance.
And so, a 19-year-old quarterback still feeling his way through his first year as a starter has caused a seismic shift felt in the SEC and well beyond. Johnny “Football” Manziel—a nickname that never appeared more appropriate—has gone from unknown to stat-sheet buster to serious Heisman contender.
Manziel totaled 345 yards and two touchdowns against a Nick Saban defense. He kept plays alive, made some of the nation’s most productive tacklers look foolish and made tremendous throws when they needed them. This just doesn’t happen, not against Alabama, and especially not in their own football cathedral.
Don’t check your rear-view mirror, Collin Klein.
Back in the summer, Texas A&M’s conference move came into focus at the SEC media days, although no one took them seriously.
“How can you possibly hang with teams like Alabama and other SEC teams?” the media asked almost mockingly, figuring plenty of turbulence for the newcomers in year one.
No one—even A&M’s own confident and energetic coach—saw something of this magnitude coming this soon. The play of Manziel, however, has drastically changed how we view this team, and this shakeup came full circle on Saturday.
In only 10 games, Manziel has become the story in the SEC. A conference absolutely loaded with history—and dominance in recent years—suddenly is being turned on its side by a 6’1", 200-pound QB who seems to make most of his greatness on the fly.
He doesn’t care about this streak, and A&M is gladly to play spoiler in year one. What’s even scarier is Manziel just finished his 10th game as a collegiate quarterback.
Johnny Football indeed...and he’s only getting started.