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Since the Associated Press began ranking college football teams in 1934, Texas A&M has beaten the No. 1 team in the nation twice — Oklahoma, 30-26, in 2002 and Alabama, 29-24, in 2012 — and lost 14 times.
Make that three. The unranked and 17.5-point underdog Aggies shocked the world with an upset of No. 1 Alabama, 41-38, on Saturday night in front of 106,815 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas, on a 28-yard field goal by Seth Small with no time remaining.
The Aggies (4-2, 1-2 SEC) moved up to No. 21 in the A.P. poll on Sunday as defending national champion Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) fell to No. 5 with its first loss since 48-45 to Auburn on Nov. 30, 2019.
“There was a lot of hype behind this game before the season even started,” junior wide receiver Ainias Smith of Missouri City, Texas, said after catching six passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns, including a 25-yard score with 3:00 remaining to tie the game 38-38.
“And for us to just get this win, it just shows something about him (A&M coach Jimbo Fisher), shows something about us that we can fight, and we’re never going to back down,” Smith said. “So, Merry Christmas.”
Christmas is still a while off, but Saturday was Fisher’s 56th birthday, and he became the first former assistant of Alabama coach Nick Saban to become a head coach and beat Saban. Prior to Saturday, Saban had been 24-0 in such matchups.
“Yes, we were trying to get him a good birthday present,” Small said. “I didn’t know what to get him, so we thought as a team that we’d like to get him a win over Alabama.”
Small actually got Fisher a similar gift last year. He kicked a 26-yard field goal as time expired to upset No. 4 Florida, also 41-38, a day after Fisher’s 55th birthday on Oct. 10.
“It felt like 100,000 were on the field with us the whole night,” Small said.
“That’s as good an environment and atmosphere in college football,” Fisher said. “Bar none. I don’t care where it’s at.”
Texas A&M also broke Alabama and Saban’s 100-0 record against unranked teams.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” A&M sophomore defensive back Antonio Johnson said. “It’s like a once-in-a-lifetime feeling. They’re a great team. Cach Saban, they coached them well over there. And we knew coming into this game that we were going to have to really dig deep and fight. And that’s what we did.”
The Aggies had lost eight straight to Alabama, six of those by an average of four touchdowns, including a 59-0 embarrassment in 2014.
“I got a little emotional after the game because it was real personal to me,” Smith said. “That’s definitely a dream. Dream game, you know what I’m saying? And for that to be the result, it’s amazing. Thank God, really.”
The win came after the Aggies looked bad on offense in two straight losses — 20-10 to Arkansas in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 25 and 26-22 at home to Mississippi State last week.
“Glad I don’t have to cover that team,” an Arkansas writer said after that Aggies’ loss.
The new Aggies play at Missouri (3-3, 0-2 SEC) at 11 a.m. Saturday on the SEC Network as an 8.5-point favorite by FanDuel.
“We’ve had a couple of tough weeks and guys growing up, getting in positions,” Fisher said. “The experience is starting to show again in the games. They competed their tails off. Great job by our assistant coaches for keeping our kids in it, being able to get them prepared and have the right mindset.”