COLLEGE STATION, Texas--AJ McCarron threw four touchdown passes, Vinnie Sunseri returned an interception 73 yards for a score and No. 1 Alabama held off a late Texas A&M rally with a 49-42 victory over the sixth-ranked Aggies Saturday.
Alabama (2-0, 1-0 SEC) spotted the Aggies (2-1, 0-1) a 14-0 lead, but McCarron and the Tide didn't take as long to respond this time, ripping off the next 35 points.
McCarron tossed three touchdowns in the first half to put Alabama up 28-14. Sunseri's pick-6 made it 35-14 less than three minutes into the third.
Johnny Manziel was his spectacular self, throwing for a career-best and school-record 464 yards and five TDs. But a first-half interception in the end zone swung the game the Tide's way and his third-quarter pick put the Aggies in a deep hole.
Alabama's best defense was its offense. The Tide gained 568 yards and kept Manziel on the bench with a couple of long drives.
Bama-A&M lived up to the billing. But this SEC heavyweight matchup was no 9-6 Game of the Century. The offenses were all but unstoppable.
And while the Tide's offense wore out the Aggies, its defense struck a big blow.
Manziel threw deep down the middle to Malcome Kennedy, but Jarrick Williams had tight coverage for Alabama and tipped the pass into the air. Sunseri came down with it and was off in the other direction, stutter-stepping as Manziel slid on by while trying for a one-arm takedown. The safety broke another tackle on the way into the end zone and Alabama was up 35-14.
A crowd of 87,596 that was booming like a jet engine earlier fell silent. They were hoping to see the Aggies get their third victory against a No. 1 team, and second straight against Alabama.
Alabama was poised to go up three touchdowns in the fourth quarter when Texas A&M's defense slammed into T.J. Yeldon a couple of yards from the goal line, causing a fumble the Aggies recovered at the 5.
Two plays later, Manziel found Mike Evans deep. The big receiver broke away from a tackler and went 95 yards for a score that made it 42-35 with 8:04 left. Manziel sprinted out of his end zone toward the other to celebrate. The crowd was alive again.
Evans finished with a school-record 279 yards on seven catches.
In need of a time-consuming drive, Alabama leaned on Yeldon and McCarron. On third-and-goal from the 5, McCarron faked the hand off, rolled right and flipped to Jalston Fowler for the touchdown to make it 49-35 with 2:28 left.
Manziel threw one more TD with 15 seconds left, but Alabama grabbed the onside kick and that was that.
It looked promising early for the Aggies. Manziel and Evans hooked up three times for long passes on their first two drives, setting up two short touchdowns that put A&M up 14-0 halfway through the first quarter.
McCarron responded with a 22-yard TD pass to Kevin Norwood, a 44-yard score on a flea-flicker to DeAndrew White and a 51-yarder in which Kenny Bell did most of the work after a short throw.