AUSTIN, Texas — Despite 15 penalties and a poor performance from its offensive line, No. 1 Alabama managed to avoid an upset and beat unranked Texas 20-19 on a last-minute field goal.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, while praising his team’s resilience, criticized their performance, saying they didn’t play “Alabama football” for most of the game.
“We had far too many penalties,” said Saban. “We pretty much shot ourselves in the foot.”
Alabama’s 15 penalties were the most ever committed under Saban and one fewer than the 2002 school record.
The offensive line seemed particularly shaken by a record 105,213 fans at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was sacked twice and pressured with 12 dropbacks.
“I think the energy in the stadium caused some uncharacteristic errors on both sides,” said Texas coach Steve Sarkisian. “But I’d like to think that maybe we have a little something to do with it.”
During the first three quarters, Young was under pressure 1 of 8 for 7 yards. In the fourth quarter, he completed 3 of 4 passes under pressure, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Young, who threw for 213 yards and a touchdown, ran the ball for 38 yards seven times. But no run was more crucial than his 20-yard scramble in Texas territory with less than 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
The game set up a game-winning 33-yard field goal from Will Reichard.
“In the end, this is the best team in the country,” Sarkisian said of the Crimson Tide. “Oddly enough, we feel pretty good about ourselves as we are in our program.
“The big teams find a way. I thought we found a way to take the lead and I thought we found a way to win them. So I don’t think we’re that far from it. “
Reichard’s kick kept alive Alabama’s streak of 53 straight wins in the nonconference regular season. The last time the Tide lost a non-conference game during the regular season was 2007 — Saban’s first season at Bama.
“Well, we didn’t block them very well up front, didn’t protect very well, got pressure in the pocket,” said Saban. “Wasn’t very effective at throwing the ball. Didn’t open people. They probably need to do a better job from a planning standpoint the way they played us. So, um, you know, it all comes down to execution.”
Saban seemed to blame distractions for his team’s underperformance.
“When you play games like this you have to focus on what’s in front of you,” he said. “You can’t care about all the other things that are going on — what people are saying, what they’re saying on ESPN, what you’re all saying [the media] Say how much you are preferred in the game. You have to focus on what’s in front of you. You’re an offensive lineman, that’s the guy you need to block. If you’re a receiver, this is the guy to beat. When you’re a quarterback, you have to take what the defense gives you. If you are a runner you have to press the hole and make the right cuts.
“So we didn’t do any of those things like we have to do. So it wasn’t just one thing.”
Alabama closed as a 21.5-point favorite against Texas at Caesar’s Sportsbook and was around -1,600 to win the game outright.
“Let’s call it what it is: nobody gave us a chance in this game,” said Sarkisian. “None of you, none of the national media. Nobody gave us a chance. But we believed in our dressing room that we could win this game. And we played like a team that believed they could win this game, a team that thought they were going to win the game.”
Texas lost starting quarterback Quinn Ewers late in the first quarter to a left collarbone injury after completing 9 of 12 passes for 134 yards.
The injury forced Hudson Card off the bench as a sophomore. He completed 14 of 22 passes for 158 yards and no touchdowns.
“I thought the quarterback that went out of the game [Ewers] played really well, made some really good throws. He’s a very talented guy,” said Saban. “But I thought the quarterback that came in did a really good job as well. He messed up and lengthened some plays that the other might not have been able to make in critical situations because he’s very sporty.”
Texas’ star running back Bijan Robinson ended the tournament with a total of 130 yards in offense (73 receiving, 57 rushing) and a touchdown.
Texas (1-1) hosts UTSA next Saturday while Alabama (2-0) hosts Louisiana Monroe.
ESPN’s Dave Wilson and David Purdum contributed to this report.
https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34563038/bryce-young-no-1-alabama-crimson-tide-eke-texas-longhorns-last-minute-field-goal Bryce Young, No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide eke past Texas Longhorns on last-minute field goal