McCarron Maxwell Player Of Week

What was the difference in Alabama defeating Texas A&M 49-42 in College Station last week? Why is Alabama ranked first in the nation, while the Aggies are no longer in control of their own destiny in the Southeastern Conference?

Alabama didn't win the game because the Crimson Tide defense was able to stop Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. Manziel, the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, had as good a game as a player can have. He completed 28 of 39 passes for 464 yards and five touchdowns and ran 14 times for 98 yards.

A case can be made that Alabama won the game because Crimson Tide quarterback A.J. McCarron had a career day. He didn't best Manziel. McCarron completed 20 of 29 passes for 334 yards and four touchdowns.

But under the "Interceptions" category, Manziel had two -- one when the Aggies were threatening to score and one that was returned for an Alabama touchdown by Vinnie Sunseri -- and McCarron had none.

And with Bama desperately needing to run the clock and get points in the fourth quarter, nursing a seven-point lead, McCarron took Alabama 65 yards in nine plays, killing five and a half of the eight minutes in the game, and finished it off with the eventual game-winning points, a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Jalston Fowler.

For his performance, McCarron was named the Maxwell Award National Player of the Week.

The top-ranked Alabama football team wrapped up preparations for Colorado State on Thursday with a 90-minute workout inside the Hank Crisp Indoor Practice Facility in shells.

The Crimson Tide welcomes former offensive coordinator Jim McElwain back to Tuscaloosa, now in his second season as the head coach for the Rams, for a 6 p.m. CDT kickoff at Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday. ESPN2 will televise the game. Colorado State is 1-2 on the season after a victory over Cal Poly last week in Fort Collins, Colo.

The Crimson Tide will hold a brief walk-through on Friday. The 2013 home opener is the latest for Alabama since the 1988 team opened the season on Sept. 24, with a 44-10 win over Vanderbilt.

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