In a battle of two unbeaten teams, No. 6 Texas A&M (6-0) travels to Tuscaloosa to take on No. 1 Alabama (7-0), as both teams look to keep their SEC West — and College Football Playoff — hopes alive.
Coming off of a bye week, the Aggies of Texas A&M are looking to stop a three-game losing streak to the Crimson Tide — dating back to when Johnny Manziel upset No.1 Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium in 2012. The Aggies are excited about the opportunity to upset the No. 1 team in the country in front of a national audience on Saturday, just ask Texas A&M defensive coordinator John Chavis. On Tuesday, Chavis said, “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to play the number one team in the country because we want to be the number one team in the country.”
Alabama enters the game fresh off of a 49-10 annihilation of Tennessee in Knoxville last Saturday. After their impressive win over the Volunteers, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones had high praise for the Crimson Tide. “They’re the number one team in the country and rightfully so. Sometimes, they just line up and say ‘we’re better than you,’” Jones said after the game on Saturday. With a dominant win over one of its biggest rivals on ‘The Third Saturday in October’ behind them, Alabama now shifts its attention to Texas A&M.
The Crimson Tide will be led by their freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts. Teammates, coaches and national media members have raved about the young man so far this season. Even Nick Saban, a man who is rarely pleased, has expressed how well Hurts has adjusted to the college game. “One of the easiest guys to manage … that I’ve ever been around at that age,” Saban said during Monday’s press conference. Wednesday’s press conference brought even more praise for the young quarterback as Saban said, “We didn’t expect him to have to start as a freshman, but he’s handled that fairly well.”
Trying to contain Jalen Hurts will be no small task for the Aggies, but they will be receiving a big boost to their defense as defensive end Myles Garrett will play more snaps this week. After playing mostly on third-down situations against Tennessee due to an ankle injury, Garrett said earlier this week that he will play more on first, second and fourth down against Alabama. The All-American defensive end would not give a percentage as to how much he would play exactly, but Saban knows just how important Garrett is to the Texas A&M defense. “Maybe the most dominant defensive player that we’ve played all year,” Saban said of Garrett on Wednesday morning. Having Garrett out on the field will be vital to Texas A&M attempting to slow down Alabama’s dominant rushing attack.
Although Texas A&M is undefeated, the team has struggled to finish some games this year. The Aggies built leads against then-ranked UCLA and a ranked Tennessee team, but squandered the lead away late in both games. Against a South Carolina team they should have beaten soundly, Texas A&M squeaked out a 24-13 win. Despite their struggles, Saban knows just how much potential this Texas A&M squad has. On Tuesday, Saban said, “Texas A&M presents as many challenges as any team we’ve faced all year.” You can expect both teams to be ready to play come Saturday.
Texas A&M possesses a fantastic rushing attack that ranks second in the SEC in yards. The Aggies’ ground game is led by true freshman Trayveon Williams who has rushed for 704 yards and five touchdowns this season. However, Alabama has the best defensive front seven in the entire country. Just this week, an NFL executive said all seven members of the Tide’s front seven will likely be drafted in the first or second round. Realistically, Alabama shouldn’t lose a game with that kind of talent. If the Aggies can get something going on the ground against the Tide, Texas A&M will have a good chance at pulling off the upset. On the flip side, Alabama hasn’t allowed anyone to effectively run the football on its defense all season.
After a week off and everyone doubting them throughout the week, Texas A&M is going to come out on fire this Saturday. The question at hand is how the Crimson Tide will come out of the gates on Saturday. Will they start the game lethargic after hearing everyone talk them up all week? Or will they come out focused and ready to play? The SEC West crown is up for grabs, and you can expect both teams to lay it all out on the line. At the end of the day, Alabama is the more talented team and will win. Alabama will win 31-17 and take full control of the SEC West.
Texas A&M and Alabama face off on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET on CBS.
Edited by Adam Milliken
Featured image by Ken Lund