The United States Sports Academy’s 2012 College Football Game of the Year is Texas A&M’s upset of No. 1 Alabama in the teams’ first ever Southeastern Conference showdown.
Thanks to its redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, the nearly 14-point underdog Texas A&M Aggies, which was then ranked No. 15, stunned No. 1 Alabama, 29-24 in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
Showing cool under fire against Alabama’s top-rated defense, Manziel staked the No. 15 Aggies to a 20-0 lead in the first quarter and the Aggies escaped a last-ditch, fourth-and-goal effort by the Crimson Tide to pull out the victory in Week 11 of the college football season.
Manziel led his team with his arm and his feet, completing 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards and two touchdowns and most importantly, zero interceptions. He also led the team in rushing with 18 carries for 92 yards. Nicknamed “Johnny Football,” he went on to win the Heisman Trophy as Texas A&M finished the season with an 11-2 record and ranked No. 5 in the country.
The Aggies were playing their first season in the SEC and appeared in its upset win to have have ended the league’s run of Bowl Championship Series titles at six years. However, Alabama made it to the national championship game where it defeated Notre Dame for its second consecutive title.The Crimson Tide ended the season as the consensus No. 1 and a 13-1 record, with its lone loss coming to Texas A&M.
Against the Aggies, Alabama trailed, 29-24, when Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron drove the ball quickly downfield with a 54-yard pass to Kenny Bell to the Texas A&M 6-yard line. Two scrambles and an Eddie Lacy run left one final shot on fourth down from the 2. However, Texas A&M’s Deshazor Everett intercepted McCarron’s fourth-down pass at the goal line with 1:36 left to secure the win.
Each week the Academy’s College Football Game of the Year Committee selects a Game of the Week winner. Each week’s winner is then considered for the award honoring the best College Football Game of the Year at the end of the regular season. The 2011 winner was Alabama’s shutout, 21-0, of Louisiana State in the BCS game.
The committee, which reads like a “Who’s Who” in college football, is currently chaired by Jack Lengyel, the former athletic director at the United States Naval Academy. Lengyel was also a college football coach best known for being the head coach who resurrected the Marshall University football program, as depicted in the 2006 film, “We Are Marshall.”
Daniel Moore, the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2005 Sport Artist of the Year, is commissioned by the Academy each year to create a painting honoring the selected College Football Game of the Year. Traditionally, the Academy donates Moore’s painting along with $5,000 to the general scholarship fund of the winning university.
The contest was developed to pay tribute to a team whose efforts in a game exemplify the spirit and principles of athletic endeavor, dedication and teamwork. The College Football Game of the Year Award is a part of the Academy’s Awards of Sport series.
The Academy is the largest graduate school of sport education in the world. The Academy became the first and only free standing, accredited university in America devoted entirely to sport programs when it opened in 1972, a distinction that continues to this day.