The Alabama Crimson Tide get another shot at the Texas A&M Aggies, roughly 10 months after A&M waltzed into Alabama and knocked off the defending national champions. Can Johnny Football and company pull another surprise and cover the football spread?
Alabama Crimson Tide @ Texas A&M Aggies
Saturday, September 14th – 3:30 PM ET
Kyle Field – College Station, TX
Odds: Alabama -7.5
Why The Tide Can Cover The Spread…
They should be supremely focused. There’s nothing like an unexpected home-field loss to get a team’s attention. Texas A&M was the only opponent to beat Alabama in the Crimson Tide’s 2012 national championship season. The Aggies struck with their passing game and managed to exploit Alabama’s secondary. A&M scored three quick touchdowns and was able to preserve that lead for the duration, albeit barely. Just about everything went right for the Aggies on that evening, but now, A&M has to do it all over again.
It won’t be easy.
Alabama now has a much better idea of how to defend Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. For one thing, Alabama did a really good job of containing Manziel in the final 40 minutes of last year’s game; it was the first 20 minutes that killed the Crimson Tide. In 2013, Alabama should be even more prepared for anything Manziel might throw at head coach Nick Saban’s defense. It’s going to be hard for A&M to outflank Alabama’s defense two years in a row, and on a broader level, it’s a big ask for the Aggies to outplay the Tide two years in a row.
The more specific reason to take Alabama in this game is that the Tide’s offense should be able to hit 30 points, which would have won last year’s game against A&M. Quarterback A.J. McCarron should be able to throw the ball well and often against Texas A&M’s shaky defense, which dealt with a number of suspensions in week one and was accordingly rusty in week two. The biggest concern for the Aggies has to be their front four. If A&M can’t generate a remotely consistent pass rush, it will not be able to bother McCarron enough to make a difference in this game.
Why The Aggies Can Cover The Spread…
They’re at home, they have Johnny Manziel on their team, and they have Kevin Sumlin calling the shots on the sidelines. It quickly became apparent last season that Manziel was and is one of the more special talents in college football history. After all, he became the first Heisman Trophy winner in nearly 80 years of Heisman competition to win the award as a freshman. Ordinary athletes don’t do things like that. A big reason for Manziel’s emergence was Sumlin, a coach who went from the University of Houston to the big-time in the SEC and didn’t miss a beat. Sumlin had the right plan for Alabama last year, and he is already establishing himself as one of the top coaches in the United States. Sumlin is thorough and meticulous, but he also brings a strong, quiet confidence to his team. A&M has the leaders on and off the field that are needed to beat a team as imposing as Alabama.
Outlook & Prediction:
A&M can certainly win this game but which team would you trust under the circumstances? The Aggies can get it done on the football lines but they’re not likely to – not when Alabama is so thoroughly consumed by revenge and doing whatever it takes to even the score after last year’s loss.
NCAA Football Picks: Alabama -7.5