There will be a new No. 1 in the polls next week as the Crimson Tide fell shockingly against Texas A&M. Going into this game, Alabama looked nearly untouchable. Outside of a close win against Florida on the road, the Crimson Tide dominated each and every opponent that stepped in their way.
The very opposite could be said for Texas A&M, who was arguably the most disappointing team in the country so far this season. The Aggies started the year No. 7 in the nation, but after losing their starting quarterback Haynes King, they suffered back-to-back disappointing losses against Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Their offense scuffled in both these games under backup quarterback Zach Calzada, only putting up 10 points against the Razorbacks and 22 against the Bulldogs. Then, out of nowhere, Calzada and the Aggies exploded against Alabama.
A&M put up 41 points against the Tide, more than they had combined against Arkansas and Mississippi State.
Calzada, who had struggled to throw the ball with accuracy, only completing 57% of his passes in the last two games, completed 21 of his 31 passes for 285 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 24-10 lead at halftime thanks to a first quarter fumble and interception by Alabama. The Tide would climb back, eventually taking the lead 38-31 with five minutes remaining.
Calzada led the Aggies right back down the field and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to receiver Ainais Smith to tie the game at 38-38. Still, Alabama. With three minutes left in the game, it appeared that Alabama’s offense was primed to go down the field and win the football game.
Outside of the two early turnovers, Alabama’s offense was exceptional. Quarterback Bryce Young threw for 369 yards and three touchdowns, but on this drive, the Aggies forced a huge three-and-out and received the football back.
Calzada then drove the Aggies down the field and set up the game-winning field goal as time expired, completing the 41-38 victory that no one saw coming.
The loss might not change anything for Alabama, they’re still in first place in the SEC West and will control their own destiny for a chance to go to the SEC Championship.
However, it could give college football playoff voters a reason to leave them out of the playoff, if they should lose to Georgia in the SEC Championship. Georgia looks to have the SEC East relatively locked up, barring any unforeseen upsets.
Going into this week, it seemed probable that both Alabama and Georgia would be undefeated heading into the SEC championship game, and that both regardless of the winner, would have earned a spot in the playoff. Now with a loss to an unranked Aggies team, that scenario appears to be in doubt.
The team that will take over as number one in the polls is Georgia, who went on the road and beat No. 18 Auburn 34-10.
It was more of the same from the Bulldogs in this one. Their defense dominated yet again, holding Auburn to just 46 rushing yards on 29 attempts, for 1.6 yards per carry. The Georgia defense frustrated Auburn quarterback Bo Nix, who threw for 217 yards and an interception.
Offensively for the Bulldogs, they characteristically ran it for 201 yards and two touchdowns. However, it was quarterback Stetson Bennett and the Georgia passing attack that impressed even more than the rushing attack.
In Georgia’s 37-0 win over Arkansas last week, Bennett only threw the ball 11 times, completing seven for just 72 yards. This week, the Bulldogs committed more to the passing game and Bennett flourished.
He completed 14 of 21 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns, and completed two bombs deep down the field, something Georgia fans haven’t been accustomed to seeing. The one doubt about the Georgia offense this year, and in year’s past, has been about their ability to throw the ball down the field.
Bennett proved today that they’re more than capable of being a quarterback that can create big passing plays. Going into the game, most people believed Georgia’s passing offense needed to wait for the return of often-injured quarterback JT Daniels before the Bulldogs' passing game began to improve.
Daniels remained out of today’s game with an ongoing lat injury. It remains to be seen when he will be able to resume quarterback duties for Georgia. A lat injury (shoulder and upper back), especially for a quarterback, can oftentimes be a nagging issue that is tough to heal, and even tougher to play through.
With Alabama’s loss, the Bulldogs and the Kentucky Wildcats, Georgia’s opponent next week, stand alone as the only undefeated teams left in the SEC.
Kentucky came into this season unranked, and didn’t look to be a threat in the SEC East. They’ve certainly proved otherwise the last two weeks, beating then ranked No. 10 Florida 20-13, and dominating LSU 42-21 Saturday.
Starting quarterback Will Levis accounted for five touchdowns against the Tigers. The former Penn State quarterback transferred to Kentucky, and he’s been solid for the Wildcats so far this season, but stepped up big-time Saturday night. Against LSU, he contributed 145 yards and three touchdowns through the air, and Levis added 75 yards and two scores on the ground.
The Wildcats will look to further shake up the SEC and spoil Georgia’s bid for an undefeated season when they go to Athens next Saturday.