Hyped for months, the rematch between two-time defending national champion Alabama and Johnny Manziel-led Texas A&M lived up to its billing.

This time Alabama came back from a two-touchdown first quarter deficit and held off the hard-charging Aggies, 49-42, to earn selection as the Week 3 winner of the United States Sports Academy’s College Football Game of the Year contest. Last season, A&M jumped out front, 20-0, to start the game and shocked top-ranked Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala., 29-24.

Although Alabama won in College Station, Texas, the Crimson Tide could not shut down Heisman Trophy quarterback Manziel. The sophomore threw for a career-best 464 yards and five TDs and rushed for another 98 yards on 14 carries.

His 562 total yards is the second-most in Southeastern Conference history, ranking only behind the 576 he had against Louisiana Tech last season. Alabama’s defense gave up 628 yards total—the most it has ever allowed.

The Academy presented its official 2012 College Football Game of the Year painting to Texas A&M on Sept. 13. Pictured (L-R) are (L-R) Texas A&M President Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Moore, Jack Lengyl, the Academy's College Football Game of the Year Committee chair, and Texas A&M Director of Athletics Eric Hyman.

Alabama’s best defense against Texas A&M was its offense that ate up 35 minutes of the game as the Crimson Tide gained 234 yards on 37 rushes. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron went 20-for-29 passing with 334 yards and four touchdowns and remained poise despite every A&M comeback attempt.

The play of the game came when Vinnie Sunseri intercepted Manziel and ran it back for a 73-yard score that put Alabama ahead, 35-14, early in the third quarter.

But Texas A&M’s defense slammed into Alabama running back T.J. Yeldon a couple of yards from the goal line and two plays later Manziel found Mike Evans for a 95-yard score that made it 42-35 with 8:04 left. Manziel then threw a final TD with 15 seconds remaining. But Alabama grabbed the onside kick and that was that.

A national panel of experts selects the weekly winner of the Academy’s College Football Game of the Year Contest. Each week’s winner is considered for the award honoring the best College Football Game of the Year at the end of the season. Last season’s winner was Texas A&M’s 29-24 shocking upset of Alabama in a Southeastern Conference showdown.

This committee 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. The Academy, also known as America’s Sports University, donates the painting and $5,000 to the general scholarship fund of the annual winner.