The no. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide will take their show on the road this weekend as they visit the no. 24 Texas A&M Aggies. Kickoff is at 3:30 EST on Saturday, October 12 at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.
Based on the Week 7 college football odds, the Crimson Tide is favored by 17 points on the road. The over/under for the contest is set at 59.5 points.
Alabama took last week off after getting off to a 5-0 start. Wins over the likes of Duke, South Carolina, and Ole Miss have been enough to convince voters to move them from no. 2 to no. 1 in the polls, although a close call by Clemson probably had more to do with it. The level of competition the Crimson Tide has faced early in the season can be questioned. But Alabama has won five games by an average margin of 37 points and by no less than 24 points, so they’ve taken care of business thus far.
Of course, things will start to pick up for Nick Saban’s team, especially in November when they play both LSU and Auburn. But a mid-October trip to College Station figures to be the biggest test they’ve faced this season. It will be just the second road game they’ve played this year, although they are set to come home for three in a row afterward.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M is hoping to improve upon their 3-2 record. The two losses have come at the hands of Clemson and Auburn, so nobody is going to blame the Aggies too much for losing a couple of games early in the season. However, prior to last week’s bye, the Aggies had an unconvincing 31-27 win over Arkansas. That game raised some red flags.
At 3-2, Texas A&M is in good shape to reach a bowl game. However, they still have three top-5 teams left on their schedule with Georgia and LSU lurking in November. The silver lining is that the Aggies could actually make a case for the College Football Playoff with two losses if they can win out. But that means knocking off no. 1 Alabama this week.
As most remember, the Aggies knocked off Alabama in 2012 in the first meeting between the two schools as SEC foes. However, the series has been all Alabama since then. The Tide has rolled to victory in six straight games against A&M, usually by wide margins, including a 45-23 win last year. Despite its reputation as being one of the most challenging places to play in the country, the Crimson Tide has never failed to win in College Station.
First of all, I want to commend Texas A&M for not complaining about what might be the most brutal schedule a team could face. However, while they hung tough against Clemson and Auburn, they looked a little overmatched in both games. Teams that are overmatched against Alabama usually get blown out of the water. Being at home should allow the Aggies to keep the game close in the first half. But sooner or later, the edge you get from the crowd fades. When that happens, I expect the Crimson Tide to assert themselves and eventually cover the 17-point spread.
The biggest red flag I’ve seen in Texas A&M this season is their inability to run the ball against quality competition. They were held well under 100 yards rushing against Clemson and Auburn. Even more concerning, they failed to reach the century mark against Arkansas. I see no reason why things will be any different against the Alabama defense. Without a steady rushing attack, the whole game will fall on quarterback Kellen Mond’s shoulders. While he’s hung in there against tough defenses, I’m not sure if the Aggies can bank on Mond being able to carry them against the Crimson Tide defense.
On the other side of the ball, the Alabama offense remains as potent as any in the country. The Tide’s lowest output this season was the 42 points they scored in their season opener. Outside of Duke keeping them off the scoreboard in the first quarter of that game, no team has come close to keeping Alabama contained. Tua Tagovailoa is simply too accurate and has too many weapons around him for teams to get stops.
Again, I want to give credit to Texas A&M. Defensively, they haven’t been overwhelmed by their opponents this season. They even gave Clemson a run for their money for most of the game. But Alabama is on another level from Clemson and Auburn. There are simply too many potential playmakers that it’s impossible to stop all of them.
For what it’s worth, Alabama has failed to cover the spread in both of their SEC games this year. But a spread that’s under 20 points is definitely within their range, regardless of the opponent. Saban got an extra week to work with his team ahead of this game and should have no trouble getting their attention before a trip to College Station. I like the Tide to start fast and eventually pull away and cover the spread.