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2-week lull is Alabama defense's worst in 5 years

Associated Press Modified: November 12, 2012 at 4:16 am •  Published: November 12, 2012

Alabama's defense has had a two-week aberration.

The Tide has given up more than 400 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in five years.

Johnny Manziel and a Texas A&M offense that's fifth-best in the country piled up 418 yards Saturday in the 29-24 upset that ended the defending champions' 13-game win streak and knocked the Tide out of the No. 1 spot in the polls.

A week earlier, Alabama survived to beat LSU, but not before the Tigers' 71st-ranked offense amassed 435 yards.

Not since Houston generated 404 yards and Mississippi 420 on consecutive weeks in October 2007 had Alabama given up so many yards in consecutive games. That was Nick Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa, and he had a defense that ranked 31st in the country. The Tide hasn't ended a season lower than fifth since.

The Tide's defensive average has gone from 203 yards before the LSU game to 247 this week. That still ranks second nationally behind Florida State.

Alabama is tied with Notre Dame in allowing 11.1 points per game.

Last season Alabama's defense led the nation at 183.6 yards a game, and it allowed 12 touchdowns in 13 games. This season, the opposition has scored 14 TDs through 10 games.

No doubt, the Tide will be better this week. The opponent is Western Carolina, a Football Championship Subdivision team that has lost nine in a row since winning its opener over Division II Mars Hill College.

FABULOUS FRESHMEN: They're known as "Gurshall" to the folks at Georgia.

The Bulldogs' Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall showed again Saturday why they're the nation's best 1-2 freshman running back tandem.

Each ran for more than 100 yards in the same game for the third time in a 38-0 win over Auburn.

Gurley ran 11 times for 116 yards and Marshall eight times for 105.

The two have combined for 1,598 yards, the most production by a freshman duo in program history.

MR. DEPENDABLE: Though the depth chart says Imani Cross is a third- or fourth-string running back, he's established himself as Nebraska's go-to guy in short-yardage situations.

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