Jalen Milroe, Jermaine Burton lead No. 11 Alabama past Texas A&M 26-20 to take control of SEC West
Alabama coach Nick Saban has won 290 games as a college head coach.
This one against Texas A&M stood out.
“This may be the record game for me, in terms of messing up and still winning,” Saban said.
Jalen Milroe passed for a career-high 321 yards and Jermaine Burton caught two touchdown passes as No. 11 Alabama overcame a mountain of mistakes beat Texas A&M 26-20 on Saturday to take control of the SEC West.
Burton had nine catches for 197 yards for the Crimson Tide (5-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference). Milroe, the Texas native, completed 21 of 33 passes and was sacked six times.
The Aggies (4-2, 2-1) got within one score when coach Jimbo Fisher elected to have Randy Bond kick a 20-yard field goal with 2:11 remaining, but Alabama recovered an ensuing onside kick and moved the chains for a first down to run out the clock.
Alabama committed 14 penalties, including nine false starts, for 99 yards and turned the ball over twice.
“We have a lot of things to clean up, but we have a lot of things to be proud of and I’m really excited about the team effort,” Saban said. “We weren’t at our best in the first half today, but for our guys to pull themselves to overcome adversity and (have) resiliency, this is a great win for our team.”
Max Johnson, who took over as the starting quarterback after an injury to Conner Weigman two weeks ago, passed for 239 yards and a touchdown for Texas A&M.
The Aggies upset Alabama in the Tide's last trip to College Station — with a backup quarterback in Zach Calzada — but this time couldn't overcome their own key mistakes.
“It’s a hurt locker room because they felt very good about how they were playing in the game,” Fisher said. “There’s still a really good football team in there and we have to regroup. We have six games left … There’s not a game out there we can’t have success in, but it’s also going to be a tough schedule so we have to line up and go play."
The Crimson Tide’s Caleb Downs intercepted a pass in the third quarter two plays after A&M got an interception of its own. Alabama’s Chris Braswell blocked A&M’s 42-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter and returned it for an apparent touchdown, only to have the score wiped out by a penalty.
“There were times in the game where I felt like we lost our poise a little bit,” Saban said, “but in the second half we competed and did a fantastic job.”
The Crimson Tide got a safety to push its lead to 26-17 with 5:48 to play when a heavy pass rush forced Johnson into an intentional grounding foul in the end zone.
The two teams traded field goals in the first quarter. Alabama took a 10-3 lead on the first play of the second quarter on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Milroe to Isaiah Bond.
The Aggies responded with a 22-yard touchdown from Johnson to his brother, Jake, with 9:57 left in the half, and later took a 17-10 lead on Le’Veon Moss’ 1-yard touchdown run with 3:23 left in the half.
“It was an opportunity for this team sort of show who they are, in terms of what kind of team we have, and I think we can have a really, really good team,” Saban said. “I just think self-inflicted wounds are going to be something that we can resolve because they’re all fixable and we’re certainly going to have to do that if we’re going to be able to compete at a high level in the future.”
Alabama: The Crimson Tide now controls its own destiny in the SEC West as the only team unbeaten in the conference. Alabama was picked to win the division in the league’s preseason media poll.
Texas A&M: The Aggies’ three-game winning streak was snapped and again, they'll need help to reach Atlanta for the SEC championship for the first time.
Alabama is searching to get back into the top-10 after it dropped from No. 3 in Week 2 to as low as No. 13 in Week 4. A&M was receiving votes in this week’s poll, but will remain outside the Top-25 after a loss.
Alabama returns home next Saturday to host Arkansas.
A&M hits the road to face Tennessee.