Texas A&M's speed bottles up a slow Tide

It was up-tempo offense versus beat-down defense in Tuscaloosa, with the Aggies dealing top-ranked Alabama a blow to its BCS title hopes, 29-24.

Everyone wondered what a team like Oregon would do if it met Alabama on a field that could also serve as a laboratory beaker.

Would Oregon's up-tempo offense fizzle when mixed with Alabama's bone-crushing defense, or explode like Mentos combined with Diet Coke?

It turns out we didn't have to wait for this year's Bowl Championship Series title game to find out.

We found out Saturday.

Texas A&M's offense, seemingly not quite as lethal or fast as Oregon's, answered the question two months early with Saturday's 29-24 victory over top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The culture clash of up-tempo versus downbeat\beat-down was won by the speedsters.

Texas A&M's spread so discombobulated Alabama that the Crimson Tide was left gasping for air and burning timeouts.

"Fatigue makes cowards of us all," Vince Lombardi said years ago, never imagining that something called "up-tempo spread" would kick his saying into the stratosphere.

"I think there's a lot of lessons to be learned here," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said after Saturday's defeat.

Alabama, until last week, had trailed for only 15 seconds all season.

Saturday, the Crimson Tide never led in the game and spent the day chasing down a rabbit masquerading as a Heisman candidate.

Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel finished with 253 passing yards and two touchdowns, and produced 92 more yards with his feet.

"He's very elusive, he's instinctive in the pocket, and he's also fast," Saban said.

Other than that, Manziel is a sack of cement.

Texas A&M jumped to 20-0 lead and then braced for inevitable kickback from the defending national champions.

The Aggies, fun as they are to watch, have a history of handing over second-half leads dating to Mike Sherman's last days last season.

Texas A&M led Louisiana Tech, 39-13, earlier this season and ended up winning, 59-57.

Alabama's inevitable charge did come. The Crimson Tide cut the second-half lead to 20-17 before the Aggies kicked a field goal to go back up by six.

Alabama had a prime chance in the closing minutes but was shut out at the goal line when Texas A&M's Deshazor Everett stepped in front of AJ McCarron's potential go-ahead touchdown.

Texas A&M was still stuck at its own four with 2:51 left, but here's where the up-tempo paid a dividend.