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At least for Tide-Aggies showdown, there's no 'D' in SEC

Alabama and Texas A&M put on a show, but it's not the show that's usually promoted by CBS.

September 14, 2013|By Chris Dufresne
  • Alabama's Kevin Norwood makes a touchdown catch over Texas A&M's De'Vante Harris during Saturday's game in College Station, Texas.
Alabama's Kevin Norwood makes a touchdown catch over Texas A&M's… (Scott Halleran / Getty Images )

Alabama at Texas A&M was everything a great college game is supposed to be with this notable exception: That sure didn't look like the Southeastern Conference that CBS loves to promote.

Not once during the broadcast did Verne (Lundquist) or Gary (Danielson) dare mention that D-E-F-E-N-S-E is what sets the SEC apart from all other leagues.

The cue usually comes from a producer in the CBS truck right after they flash a wacky Pac-12 score on the screen.

"Boy," Gary might say. "That's a score we wouldn't recognize in this league."

Except it was that kind of ping-pong score Saturday in College Station when Alabama defeated Texas A&M, 49-42.

It was a terrific game and grand theater, but good tackling was nowhere to be found.

Alabama, the top defense in college football over the last few years, gave up a school-record 628 yards. The Crimson Tide countered with 568 yards of its own, for a grand total of 1,196.

In the old days, when the Western Athletic Conference played football, those were called "WAC" numbers.

The 42 points were the most given up by an Alabama team coached by Nick Saban.

The schools each earned 31 first downs as they free-range raced and roamed up and down the field.

To give you some perspective, Texas Coach Mack Brown had to fire his defensive coordinator after the Longhorns yielded 550 rushing yards last week to Brigham Young.

Alabama runners averaged 6.3 yards per carry and Texas A&M runners averaged 5.1.

The SEC is better, everybody says, because its teams dominate defensively, especially on the line of scrimmage.

Saturday, though, Alabama, Texas A&M and Tennessee gave up a combined 150 points and 1,883 yards.

Tennessee lost at Oregon, 59-14. Tennessee and Alabama have combined for four BCS titles.

The SEC defense that stood out, shockingly, was Kentucky's as the Wildcats gave up "only" 27 points to high-octane Louisville.

Saturday's game in College Station will do little to affect the stature of either team or the SEC.

Alabama will keep its stranglehold on No.1 and No. 6 Texas A&M won't fall that far with a loss to the two-time defending champions.

The SEC is great because it's great but also because it knows how to adjust the narrative as the season goes along.

There, Alabama and Texas A&M made their points, and we made ours.

Wake-up calls

Army jumped out to an early 6-0 lead on Stanford at West Point and Nebraska took an early 21-3 lead on UCLA in Lincoln.

Well, of course they did … it was early.

Both games were 9 a.m. starts on the West Coast and it was clear the Cardinal and Bruins were simply knocked out of their circadian rhythms.

Or maybe the pregame coffee just needed time to kick in.

Stanford and UCLA both woke up in time and scored easy wins. No. 5 Stanford improved to 2-0 with a 34-20 win and No. 16 UCLA (2-0) rallied to defeat Nebraska, 41-21.

Both winners will sleep well tonight.

Never give up

UCLA trailed 21-3, Alabama was down 14-0, Oregon gave up an early touchdown and Florida State trailed Nevada, 7-3.

But did any of these schools panic?

Shoot no.

They got off the collective deck to score 191 unanswered points en route to victories.

Oregon and Florida State scored 59 unanswered points on Tennessee and Nevada. UCLA scored 38 straight and Alabama scored 35.

Zip-locked

Here's the takeaway from Michigan's game in Ann Arbor: "Whew!"

Losing to Akron, technically, might not have been as shocking as the 2007 defeat to Appalachian State, but it would have been close.

Akron is a "major" college from the Mid American Conference, and Appalachian plays at the lower level.

Still, No. 11 Michigan averted program disaster in holding off Akron, 28-24. Akron's chance to pull off a major upset fell short on an incomplete pass into the end zone on the game's final play.

Michigan Coach Brady Hoke improved his record at Michigan to 17-0, but this is not a victory he'll cherish.

"You play like that, you can't win championships," Hoke told the Big Ten Network after the game.

Michigan was understandably flat a week after last week's big win over Notre Dame. The Wolverines were 37-point favorites over Akron, coached by Terry Bowden.

Akron finished 1-11 last year with its only win coming over Morgan State. The Zips were 1-1 entering the game with a win over James Madison.

Wondering: Would an Akron win have meant another win over Michigan for Jim Tressel?

The former Ohio State coach, who was 8-1 against Michigan, is now teaching at Akron.

Ram tough

The color analyst on TV had it right when he said: "Somewhere Vince Lombardi's smiling down."

Chalk up another upset for an upstart.

The Fordham Rams shocked Temple, 30-29, on Michael Nebrich's 29-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass to Sam Ajala with four seconds left in Philadelphia.

Temple challenged the play, saying Ajala had stepped out of bounds before the catch. The officials ruled he was forced out, though, so the play was upheld.

Fordham, of course, is the alma mater of Lombardi, a member of the school's famed "Seven Blocks of Granite" offensive line in the mid-1930s.

Lombardi went on to have some success in the NFL with some team called the Green Bay Packers.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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