By Tommy Deas
Advantage: Texas A&M
Alabama leads the nation in scoring at 56.7 points per game but A&M leads the SEC in total offense at nearly 600 yards per game. Trayveon Williams powers the Aggies’ rushing attack, while Tua Tagovailoa makes plays to lead the Crimson Tide’s attack.
Alabama is giving up 9.3 points per game and is coming off a strong showing, shutting down a potent Ole Miss offense last weekend. The Aggies give up just 15 points per game but rank 10th in the SEC in total defense.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Both teams have been shaky on kicks and have strong return games, with Jaylen Waddle and Josh Jacobs proving to be threads for Alabama. The Aggies lead the SEC in punting, averaging more than 51 yards per boot, and that gives A&M the edge.
No coach has accomplished more than Alabama’s Nick Saban, who has six national championship rings and has created a dynasty. Jimbo Fisher is a Saban protégé who won a national title of his own at Florida State. A&M is banking on him bring hardware to College Station.
Advantage: Texas A&M
There is shared history between the schools, with Paul W. “Bear” Bryant coaching at both schools and A&M alum Gene Stallings winning a championship at Alabama. A&M has the edge in intangibles because it has been tested this year, by Clemson, while Alabama hasn’t.
Alabama 28, Texas A&M 17
Sooner or later, Alabama will be tested. This may be the week, or at least it may be a week where UA has to work for everything it gets. The Aggies will hang tough, but Alabama has more firepower.
Alabama 51, Texas A&M 10
Texas A&M has no answer for Tua Tagovailoa and the Alabama offense and the Crimson Tide defense continues to dominate.
Alabama 35, Texas A&M 12
This is not the Hurricane Bowl ‘88 score (30-10) although it’s close. How are the games similar? No hurricane. Thirty points seems low for this Alabama offense. So does 35, but in our podcast picks I said “take the points” so there is a narrow working margin here.
Alabama 44, Texas A&M 14
The streak of 50-point performances ends, but Alabama’s dominance doesn’t. The development of the secondary has been quiet but key to Alabama’s start this season.
Alabama 30, Texas A&M 18
Alabama shredded Ole Miss last Saturday but Texas A&M’s defense is definitely more experienced. The Crimson Tide will face some challenges but will come out with the win.
Alabama 45, Texas A&M 20
The Crimson Tide continues its offensive showcase but falls short of four straight games above 50 points. Kellen Mond and Kendrick Rogers will provide a challenge for the Alabama secondary.
Alabama 42, Texas A&M 17
Texas A&M’s veteran defense could break Alabama’s three-game, 50-plus point streak. Tua Tagovailoa might even throw his first fourth-quarter pass. But since the game isn’t being played at Kyle Field, the Aggies won’t sniff an upset Saturday.
Alabama 35, Texas A&M 17
Tua Tagovailoa will have to play four quarters this time. Expect Alabama’s run game to face some challenges with the Aggies’ front line. It will be up to sophomores Tagovailoa, DeVonta Smith, Henry Ruggs, Jerry Jeudy, and freshman Jaylen Waddle to lead Alabama today.
Alabama 41, Texas A&M 13
This isn’t the same Texas A&M team Alabama is used to. Jimbo Fisher is now in charge, and he has revamped the program that it could throw Alabama for a loop. But the Crimson Tide will adjust, settle down and pull forward for the win.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
By Ben Stansell
Jedrick Wills Jr., Soph./OL, 6-5/309
Key Stat: Has 15 knockdown blocks this season
Buzz: Wills saw the field in a reserve role as a freshman, but he’s had a breakout sophomore campaign. At right tackle, Wills has helped carve out space for Alabama to run for 710 yards and seven touchdowns. Wills has his work cut out for him Saturday, when he faces a talented defensive line led by edge rusher Landis Durham.
Quinnen Williams, Soph./DL, 6-4/295
Key Stat: Paces Alabama with four tackles for a loss
Buzz: Alabama players have spoken about Williams’ potential since he arrived to Tuscaloosa, and this season he’s lived up to the hype. Having recorded 14 tackles and three quarterback hurries, Williams has been extremely productive. As the anchor of the Crimson Tide’s line, Williams will be a key cog in Alabama’s ability to stop Texas A&M’s productive rushing attack.
DeVonta Smith, Soph./WR, 6-1/173
Key Stat: Averaging 20.4 yards per reception
Buzz: Smith cemented his name in Alabama football lore with a national championship-winning catch last season, and he’s proving to be a play-maker this season. He’s hauled in 10 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns. A shifty receiver who is difficult to bring down, Smith has the ability to transform regular catches into big plays.
Kellen Mond, Soph./QB, 6-2/210
Key Stat: Has 824 passing yards (3rd in SEC) in three games
Buzz: Going into preseason, Mond wasn’t even guaranteed to be Texas A&M’s starting quarterback, but he’s more than proven he deserves the position through three games. Mond has amassed a 162.94 quarterback rating while throwing six touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s also earned the respect of Alabama linebacker Mack Wilson, who tweeted that Mond is “so talented.”
Trayveon Williams, Junior/RB, 5-9/200
Key Stat: Leads the SEC in rushing with 399 yards
Buzz: Williams experienced a sophomore slump, but has bounced back in a big way in 2018. Through three games, Williams is on pace to surpass his production from last year and even his 1,057-yard freshman campaign. After limiting the SEC’s third leading rusher, Ole Miss’ Scottie Phillips, to just 44 yards, Alabama will attempt to replicate that against Williams.
Otaro Alaka, Senior/LB, 6-3/240
Key Stat: Had 12 tackles for a loss last season
Buzz: A fifth-year senior, Alaka is one of the Aggies’ veteran leaders. Alaka led all defensive returners in starts, games played, tackles and forced fumbles entering this season. Since losing linebacker Anthony Hines III for the rest of the season against Clemson, Alaka’s role has expanded.