Saturday's Top 25: Texas A&M beats No. 1 Alabama on last-play field goal

Associated Press

College Station, Texas — During a speaking engagement this spring Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher used colorful language to proclaim his team would beat Alabama during coach Nick Saban’s career.

He fulfilled that promise in his first try since that vow Saturday night, handing the defending national champions their first loss since 2019 in a thrilling upset.

“Our team beat a really good football team … and that’s what’s important to me,” Fisher said.

Seth Small made a 28-yard field goal as time expired and Texas A&M stunned top-ranked Alabama, 41-38, to end the Crimson Tide’s winning streak at 19 games.

Texas A&M running back Isaiah Spiller (28) dives over the goal line for a touchdown as Alabama defensive back Brian Branch (14) defends during the first half.

The victory came on Fisher’s 56th birthday and is certainly Texas A&M’s biggest win since Fisher took over in 2018.

“I didn’t know what to get him, so we thought as a team that we should get a win for him,” Small said.

Alabama (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) had scored 21 straight points — capped by a TD reception and 2-point conversion grab by Jameson Williams — to take a 38-31 lead with five minutes to go.

Texas A&M (4-2, 1-2) tied it at 38 when Zach Calzada connected with Ainias Smith for a 25-yard touchdown with three minutes left. Calzada was hit as he threw the strike and had to be helped off the field but returned for the next drive after a visit to the medical tent.

TOP 25 SCOREBOARD

Calzada returned after the Aggies forced a punt to orchestrate the winning drive, highlighted by a 17-yard pass to Isaiah Spiller before Small finished it off to send fans streaming onto the field to celebrate.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Fisher said. “We made plays at critical times.”

Calzada threw for 285 yards and three touchdowns, as the former backup played like a star. Devon Achane returned a kickoff 96 yards for a TD in the third quarter and A&M’s defense got after Bryce Young all night.

“This is a great win,” Achane said. “It shows us that we’re capable of doing great things.”

Smith finished with 85 yards receiving and two scores and Jalen Wydermyer had 73 yards receiving and a TD to help the Aggies to the win.

Alabama hadn’t lost since falling 48-45 to Auburn on Nov. 30, 2019.

“Everyone needs to remember how they feel and not forget it,” Saban said.

It’s the first time Saban has lost to one of his assistants after entering the game a perfect 24-0 in those games. He’d beaten Fisher four times, the most of any of his former staffers.

“It doesn’t mean anything to me,” Fisher said about ending the former assistants streak. “Our football team is learning to play against other great football teams and have success. That’s what matters to me.”

Texas A&M also ended Alabama’s streak of 100 wins over unranked teams, dating to a win over Colorado in the 2007 Independence Bowl to cap Saban’s first season.

The Aggies entered the season ranked sixth and gunning for Alabama after the Crimson Tide handed them their only loss last season. But by last week it looked as if this would be a lost season for the Aggies after consecutive defeats by Arkansas and Mississippi State sent them tumbling out of the Top 25.

But instead of falling into a bigger hole this week, the Aggies pulled off the upset to snap an eight-game skid against Alabama. It’s their first win in the series since Johnny Manziel’s spectacular performance led them to a 29-24 win in 2012 on the road when the Crimson Tide was also ranked first.

“We had a couple of tough weeks … (but) you’re defined by how you respond to adversity,” Fisher said.

Manziel, who won the Heisman Trophy that season, was among the 106,815 fans at Kyle Field on Saturday night to watch the Aggies beat the Crimson Tide at home for the first time ever. A&M’s first win in the series came in a 20-16 win in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1968.

Manziel was among those celebrating on the field after the game in the wild postgame party.

The 17½-point underdogs gained control of this one early, racing out to a 24-10 halftime lead behind two takeaways and a splendid start by Calzada. A&M’s 24 points in the first half were the most Alabama had allowed to an unranked opponent before halftime during Saban’s tenure.

“There were a lot of issues,” Saban said.

Young threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns and Williams had 146 yards receiving. Brian Robinson Jr. added 147 yards rushing.

Alabama cut the lead to seven when DeMarcco Hellams blocked a punt by Nik Constantinou and King Mwikuta pounced on it in the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter.

But the Aggies took the blow and responded immediately with one of their own. Achane zig-zagged through two waves of defenders and then displayed the elite speed that lets him double as a sprinter on the track team to simply outrun everyone to make it 31-17 with eight minutes left in the third.

“The hole was so big,” Achane said. “It was like is this for me?”

Young then capped a 75-yard drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass Williams to cut the lead to 31-24. Williams put his finger to his lips to shush the crowd after the score.

More Top 25

► No. 6 Oklahoma 55, No. 21 Texas 48: Kennedy Brooks ran for 217 yards and two go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including a 33-yard romp with 3 seconds left, as Oklahoma beat Texas  in the Red River rivalry that will soon move to the Southeastern Conference.

The Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) appeared to be trying to set up for a game-ending field goal when Brooks instead broke free for a sprint to the end zone to stun the sellout crowd at 92,100-seat Cotton Bowl Stadium.

Oklahoma hadn’t led until Brooks had an 18-yard score with 7:10 left that made it 48-41. His rush was the first play from scrimmage after OU tied the game and kicked off to Xavier Worthy, who had the ball stripped away by Caleb Kelly.

Worthy did have nine catches for 261 yards and two scores, and his 31-yard TD catch tied the game with 1:23 left.

Texas (4-2, 2-1) had a 14-0 lead less than two minutes into the game. The Longhorns, who had won three in a row since a loss to future SEC foe Arkansas in Week 2, had never lost when scoring at least 48 points.

The Sooners overcame a 21-point deficit, matching the second-largest comeback in program history.

Caleb Williams completed 15 of 24 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns after replacing Spencer Rattler, who had two turnovers in the first half that led to Texas touchdowns. Rattler did return to throw the tying 2-point conversion after Williams’ 52-yard TD pass to Marvin Mims with 7:25 left.

Longhorns quarterback Casey Thompson, whose father played for Oklahoma, was 20-of-34 passing for 388 yards and five touchdowns. Bijan Robinson ran 20 times for 137 yards and an early touchdown.

No. 2 Georgia, 34, (at) No. 18 Auburn 10: Stetson Bennett passed for 231 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bulldogs past the Tigers for the second straight year.

The nation’s top defense gave up only its second touchdown of the year for the Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 SEC), who were still without injured starting quarterback JT Daniels. None of that kept Georgia from another comfortable SEC win and a fifth straight in the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry.

Bennett completed 14 of 21 passes and hit Ladd McConkey in stride for a 60-yard third-quarter score. He also had a 30-yard run.

Bo Nix completed 21 of 38 passes for 217 yards with an interception off a dropped ball for the Tigers (3-2, 1-1), who entered the game averaging 40 points.

(At) No. 17 Mississippi 52, No. 13 Arkansas 51: Sam Williams and Tavius Robinson pressured Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson on a potential game-winning 2-point conversion as Mississippi held on for a wild victory.

Arkansas (4-2, 1-2 SEC) scored on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Jefferson to Warren Thompson as time expired to pull within a point and decided to go for the win. Jefferson rolled right and under extended pressure from Williams and Robinson, overthrew Treylon Burks in the end zone.

Ole Miss (4-1, 1-1) took the lead with 1:07 remaining as Matt Corral threw a 68-yard touchdown pass to Braylon Sanders.

The teams combined for 1,287 total yards and 14 touchdowns. Corral accounted for four TDs, two on runs of 5 and 7 yards.

Sanders had two receptions for 127 yards while Henry Parrish Jr. and Snoop Conner rushed for 111 and 110 yards, respectively.

Jefferson accounted for six touchdowns, was 25-of-35 passing for 326 yards and added touchdown runs of 5, 6 and 10 yards. Burks had seven receptions for 136 yards and Raheim Sanders rushed 17 times for 139 yards.

Boise State 26, (at) No. 10 BYU 17: Hank Bachmeier threw for 172 yards and Boise State forced four turnovers in pulling the upset.

Cyrus Habibi-Likio ran for a season-high 75 yards and a touchdown, and Andrew Van Buren added a season-high 60 yards and a touchdown. The Broncos (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak in the series.

Jaren Hall threw for a career-high 302 yards and a touchdown for BYU (5-1). Tyler Allgeier ran for 73 yards and a touchdown. The Cougars outgained Boise State 413-312.

► No. 14 Notre Dame 32, (at) Virginia Tech 29: Jonathan Doerer kicked a 48-yard field goal with 17 seconds remaining, capping a dramatic rally to lift Notre Dame.

The Fighting Irish (5-1) tied it at 29 on Jack Coan’s 4-yard pass to Avery Davis and a two-point conversion completion to Kevin Austin with 2:26 left. After forcing the Hokies to punt, Coan drove them 45 yards in seven plays, and Doerer split the uprights, sparing the Fighting Irish a second straight loss.

The Hokies (3-2) had taken command with an interception return for a touchdown by Jermaine Waller and another touchdown drive started by an interception and finished with a 19-yard run by Braxton Burmeister with 3:55 to play, but Coan returned after playing just the first quarter to lead the comeback.

Freshman Tyler Buchner ran for a touchdown and threw for another for Notre Dame (4-2) after replacing Coan to start the second quarter, but his two second half interceptions both turned into Virginia Tech touchdowns. Kyren Williams ran for 81 yards and one touchdown and caught an 8-yard pass from Buchner for another score the Irish.

Raheem Blackshear also ran for a touchdown for the Hokies and John Parker Romo kicked three field goals.