Texas A&M Football: Winners and Loser from Week 11 Game vs. Alabama

Michael Taglienti@@miketag98Featured ColumnistNovember 12, 2012

Texas A&M Football: Winners and Loser from Week 11 Game vs. Alabama

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    The Texas A&M Football team shocked the nation, and sent a message to the rest of the Southeastern Conference with their 29-25 victory over No. 1 Alabama.

    This marks the second time that Texas A&M has knocked off the Associated Press' No. 1-ranked team. 10 years ago on this same weekend, Texas A&M, led by offensive coordinator Kevin Sumlin and freshman quarterback Reggie McNeal, beat then-No.1 Oklahoma.

    It was a statement victory in the Aggies' inaugural season in the SEC. It also may be the game that keeps the SEC out of the BCS for the first time in seven years.

    This is a look at the winners and losers from the Texas A&M vs. Alabama game.

Winner: A&M Head Coach Kevin Sumlin

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    With the win over Alabama, Kevin Sumlin extended his personal road winning streak to 12 games. Sumlin won his last six games on the road as the head coach at Houston, and now has won all six road games this season at A&M.

    His ability to consistently motivate a team to go out and win on the road has attracted the attention of athletic directors from around the nation and high school recruits.

    When Texas A&M started to look for a new head coach, there were many Aggies who felt that the job should go to a defensive coach who knows the SEC, like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. There were serious doubts about whether a spread offense could work in the SEC.

    Sumlin has proven all the doubters wrong. He is one of the hottest coaches in America and has created a buzz around the A&M program. Do not be surprised to see Sumlin get a significant raise after this season.

Loser: SEC BCS Title Hopes

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    The Aggies' victory over Alabama has knocked the Crimson Tide out of the No. 1 spot in the BCS poll. With Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oregon still undefeated, there is no guarantee that a one-loss SEC team will make it into the BCS Championship game this season.

    That would mean that the SEC's streak of six straight national champions coming from the conference is in jeopardy.

    The SEC needs Alabama to win all of its remaining games including the SEC Championship game, and two of the three remaining undefeated teams to drop a game to even have a shot at getting into the BCS title game.

    The general public is sick of watching the SEC dominate the college football landscape. They will clamor for any undefeated team to get into the BCS game over a one-loss Alabama team.

Winner: A&M Offensive Coordinator Kliff Kingsbury

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    Kliff Kingsbury's name was already popping up in rumors for coaching vacancies before the Alabama game. After watching Kingsbury's offense pick apart Nick Saban's defense, there are fanbases all over the country who want him to be their head coach.

    Kingsbury has led an explosive Aggie offense that will end the season leading the SEC in rushing, passing, scoring and total yardage.

    He will be able to stay at A&M as the offensive coordinator if he chooses to, or he will be able to pick from a number of head coaching positions offered to him after the season is over.

Loser: A.J. McCarron's Heisman Hopes

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    In recent weeks, there has been a push to consider Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron for the Heisman Trophy. With his two interceptions in the loss to A&M, his Heisman candidacy is dead.

    McCarron is probably not the best football player on his own team. That title likely belongs to offensive guard Chance Warmack.

    If you are not the best football player on your own team, then you should not be in consideration for an award that supposedly goes to the best football player in the country.

    Now no one has to try to justify why McCarron should be considered for an award that, quite simply, his numbers and performance on the field indicate that he does not deserve.

Winner: Aggie Quarterback Johnny Manziel

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    While McCarron's Heisman hopes died on Saturday, the performance of Johnny "Football" Manziel opened the nation's eyes to one of the most exciting players in college football.

    Manziel showed experience beyond his years in completing 24 of 31 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 93 yards on 15 carries. He even had a "Heisman moment" in the first quarter when he appeared to be sacked and lost control of the ball, only to snag the ball out of the air and spin away from the Crimson Tide defenders to throw a touchdown pass.

    It is unlikely that Manziel will win the Heisman Trophy as a freshman no matter how deserving he is. However, this game should vault him into being a finalist and a trip to New York. 

    The publicity of having a player on television at the Heisman presentation is a boon to any college football program and its recruiting. It will also set Manziel up for Heisman consideration for the next three years.

Loser: ESPN Analyst Mark May

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    A wise man once said, "It is better to be thought a fool, than you open your mouth and remove all doubt."

    The Aggies had already exceeded expectations in their inaugural season in the SEC before the Alabama win. With the victory over the Crimson Tide, May and his brethren in the media have to eat a lot of crow for predicting that the Aggies would never compete in the league.

    College football analysts should know better than anyone that football is cyclical. All it takes is a rash of injuries or a coach wrecking a motorcycle to send a seemingly unstoppable program into a tailspin.

    At the same time, the right coach in the right place at the right time can revive a moribund program. May and the other "experts" should have realized what kind of talent A&M had on campus and the potential for that talent.

Winner: Aggie DT Kirby Ennis

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    Texas A&M junior defensive tackle Kirby Ennis played the best game of his career when the Aggies really needed it.

    Ennis had seven tackles and a sack against Alabama. The Crimson Tide has one of the top two offensive lines in the country. They can pretty much line up and roll over any defense that they face.

    Ennis and his fellow defenders helped limit Alabama to 3.9 yards per rush. Ennis' seven tackles tied for the team lead.

    Heading into the game, the matchup of Alabama's offensive line against the Aggies' defensive line was a huge mismatch in favor of the Crimson Tide. Ennis and his fellow defensive linemen played above their heads and helped the Aggies win their most important game in at least a decade.

Loser: Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban

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    Because of his tremendous success on the field, when Alabama head coach Nick Saban speaks everyone in college football listens.

    Earlier in the season he openly criticized the proliferation of the spread offense in college football. He even inferred that the no-huddle spread offense may be unsafe for defensive players.

    Saban basically runs an NFL football team in Tuscaloosa. He wants to run the ball, limit mistakes, and play exceptional defense. His team is not built to come back from large deficits.

    Saban does not like spread offenses because he knows that on any given day his defense can play poorly, and a spread team can get up by two to three touchdowns in a short period of time. He knew that his team would have a tough time winning in that situation, so he spoke out against it.

    It was simply an expression of self-preservation. Sumlin and the Aggies proved that his concerns about how his team would hold up against a spread team had some merit.

Winner: A&M WR Ryan Swope

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    Aggie wide receiver Ryan Swope proved that he can get open and be effective against one of the best defenses in college football.

    Swope had 11 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown against the Tide. He showed fearlessness going over the middle and holding onto the ball after vicious hits from the Alabama secondary.

    Swope's 11 catches pushed him past Jeff Fuller for the career A&M record for receptions. Swope now is the most prolific receiver in A&M history with 236 career catches. He has three more games to add to his record.

    The NFL scouts in attendance in Tuscaloosa had to be impressed with Swope's toughness and speed.

Winner: Aggie Senior Class

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    Swope and Aggie outside linebacker Sean Porter both decided to pass up the NFL draft after their junior seasons in order to return to Aggieland for the first year of the Kevin Sumlin era.

    They are part of a senior class that has led the Aggies to four straight bowl games. This senior class had 18 of its members play as true freshmen in 2009 when the Aggies went to the Independence Bowl.

    This class now has a chance to lead the Aggies to 10 regular season wins. It is a class that signed with A&M when Mike Sherman was coming off a 4-8 season.

    Aggie fans owe a lot of gratitude to this special group of players who believed in the potential of the A&M program, even when it was at its worst on the field. They worked very hard to make the Aggies relevant on the national stage.