3 Up, 3 Down: Texas A&M 29, Alabama 24

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A look at the good and the bad from No. 1 Alabama's 29-24 loss to No. 15 Texas A&M at home on Saturday night.


1. Rushing attack: When Alabama needed it most, the running game came through. With Texas A&M ahead big in the first quarter and the Alabama offense seemingly lost, coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator turned to the running game. Alabama pounded the ball one play after another with Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon to get its first touchdown of the game and continued to work off the run to score again before halftime.

2. Overcoming adversity: No, the game didn't end the way Alabama would have liked. But give the Crimson Tide credit -- with the game on the line, they didn't back down. Alabama marched back from 20 points down to pull the game within a touchdown. When it looked like Texas A&M had put it out of reach again in the fourth quarter, a defensive stand and a drive down the field had Alabama within a few yards of putting the game-winning points on the board.

3. Special teams: The job Cody Mandell did flipping field position likely will go unnoticed. That's par for the course for punters. But Mandell's efforts, combined with that of Jeremy Shelley and Cade Foster, was enough to be a bright spot for the Tide on an otherwise gloomy night. Mandell averaged 44 yard per punt, Shelley made his only field goal attempt and Foster booted two of five kickoffs for touchbacks.


1. Passing game: Maybe it was a hangover from the LSU game, maybe not. Whatever the case, AJ McCarron has not been as sharp the past two weeks as he was the previous eight. The former Heisman Trophy contender all but dropped out of the race after throwing two interceptions against a Texas A&M defense that ranked 116th out of 120 in turnovers gained.

2. Physical defense: The defense continued to struggle wrapping up ball carriers Saturday night. Calculating the yards after contact takes time, but it's safe to say that the Aggies got a good portion of their yards after being touched by a player in crimson. When Johnny Manziel was surrounded behind the line of scrimmage, the defense couldn't bring him down. When John Fulton had coverage of Ryan Swope, he couldn't make a play. When it came to defending the point of attack, Alabama was underwhelming.

3. Execution: Whether it was on offense or defense, Alabama simply did not execute. Defenders continued to miss tackles and assignments. Maintaining gap assignments against Manziel was key, and Alabama failed that task. On offense, the number of three-and-outs was staggering. Alabama converted on just seven of 15. McCarron wasn't sharp, the receivers dropped passes and the offensive line struggled to adjust to the Aggies' unique defensive fronts. As it turns out, the recovery time from LSU did play a role in the outcome, because when it came to winning the game between the ears, Texas A&M won without contest.