No. 1 Alabama at No. 24 Texas A&M
When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday
Where: Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Records: Alabama 5-0, 2-0 SEC; Texas A&M 3-2, 1-1 SEC
Radio: 95.3 FM, 102.9 FM
By Edwin Stanton
The Crimson Tide is No. 3 in the nation in scoring and total offense and gets better every week with Tua Tagovailoa at the helm and offensive linemen Jedrick Wills and Landon Dickerson providing protection (six sacks through five games).
Alabama has not been great against the run (139 ypg) as in years past, particularly on the perimeter. Texas A&M and the front line, led by Justin Madubuike, has limited opponents to 109 ypg and three times have held teams to 89 yards or less.
Advantage: Texas A&M
Braden Mann is the 2018 Ray Guy Award winner for the nation’s best punter and is on his way to winning the honor again (48.4 average). Jaylen Waddle can do some damage for Alabama in the return game if given the chance. We still don’t know the status of Tide kicker Will Reichard.
Nick Saban goes up against another former assistant in Jimbo Fisher. Saban is 2-0 vs. Fisher. Alabama’s offensive line has gotten better from Week 1 under coach Kyle Flood and the line could be the key for today’s matchup
Advantage: Texas A&M
As Alabama’s Jaylen Waddle, a Houston native, said earlier this week, “The 12th Man is real.” It will be loud and the Aggies will be thrilled to welcome the No. 1 team to Kyle Field in hopes for an upset.
Alabama 42, Texas A&M 17
The Aggies do present the Crimson Tide defense with some problems but not enough to be concerned about for four quarters. Alabama’s ability to make adjustments during the game has proven to be the difference. That and the Alabama offense’s scoring ability will lead to a 6-0 start for the fourth straight year.
Texas A&M 28
Coming off of a bye week, the Tide will hope to be well-rested heading into their first matchup of the season against a ranked opponent. The Aggies’ Kellen Mond led offense will be a tough test for an unproven defense but Tua and his embarrassment of receiving riches will be too much to handle in a track meet.
Texas A&M 16
Texas A&M wants to go slow, keep the game low scoring and hope it makes the two or three big plays needed to win. Alabama wants to play a fast game and force the Aggie offense to play catch up. The first 20 minutes of the game should tell us all we need to know.
Texas A&M 27
There have been some score-a-thons in College Station before. This one promises to see Texas-sized points on both sides and that’s the kind of shootout you don’t want to get into out West — unless you are from Hawaii.
Texas A&M 20
The first bye week of the season came at the right time for the Crimson Tide. Tua Tagovailoa and the offense will continue to light up opposing defenses, while the Crimson Tide defense will make the right adjustments to stifle the Aggie offense.
Texas A&M 20
Kellen Mond has hurt Alabama for some big gains in the running game over the last two years, and I don’t expect that to change this year. Even with a talented crop of receivers, though, the Aggies’ offensive line will hold back the offense, and I don’t think the defense can contain Alabama’s passing game – especially after a bye week.
Texas A&M 17
The quarterback dual between Tua Tagovailoa and Kellen Mond will be where this game is decided. The Alabama offensive line will continue to protect and allow Tagovailoa to stay in the pocket and throw which will allow those deadly receivers to pick apart the Aggies’ defense.
Texas A&M 23
With his scrambling ability, Kellen Mond will give the Alabama defense problems, but Tua Tagovailoa and the talented receiving corps will continue their assault on the school record books.
Texas A&M 17
After the way the Aggies looked against Arkansas and Auburn, Texas A&M is not as impressive as I originally thought preseason. The team will be fully backed by the 12th man, but Alabama will pick up their first win against a ranked opponent of the season on Saturday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
By Carey Reeder
Position: Defensive line
Key Stat: Five tackles this season and earned his second start against Ole Miss
Buzz: After Alabama gave up 279 yards rushing against Ole Miss, coach Nick Saban was less than impressed with the containment on the ends of the defensive line. Eboigbe lines up opposite side of the line of senior Raekwon Davis and the two ends need to do a better job against the Aggies to prevent another lackluster defensive performance. Byron Young was also getting first team snaps this week at practice at defensive end .
Position: Offensive Line
Key Stat: Played 34 snaps against Ole Miss
Buzz: Brown returned from his six-game suspension against Ole Miss and already seems to be ready to enter the starting rotation at right guard for the offensive line. Brown will likely take Landon Dickerson’s spot at right guard while Dickerson moves to center this week in place of the injured Chris Owens. With Brown’s size and experience with the others up front, his return was a huge lift for Alabama and hopes to prove pivotal in College Station, Texas.
Position: Running back
Key Stat: Leads Alabama in rushing with 337 yards on 54 attempts. One touchdown on the ground.
Buzz: I think I speak for a lot of Alabama fans when I say Najee Harris needs a breakout game, and soon. While he has four touchdowns this year, three have been receiving scores and just one lone rushing touchdown. Harris came into this season with high expectations and it would be accurate to say he hasn’t lived up to those just yet.
Position: Defensive line
Key Stat: 15 tackles this season, two sacks and one interception
Buzz: Madubuike will be crucial on the Aggies defensive side of the ball if Texas A&M is to have a chance Saturday. Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been virtually untouched so far this season and quarterback pressure by the Aggies will be very important at Kyle Field. If Madubuike and the defensive front can get to Tagovailoa and throw off his rhythm, the Aggies have a shot.
Key Stat: Averaging 48.4 yards per punt with 11 of his 20 punts landing inside the 20
Buzz: The 2018 Ray Guy Award winner and unanimous All-American, Mann is arguably the best punter in the nation and I give him the nod on that debate. A great punter is something that can be overlooked easily, but Mann warrants to be near the top of the scouting report on the Aggies. Mann can flip the field position into Texas A&M’s favor with just one kick which could prove to be a key element in the game on Saturday.
Position: Defensive back
Key Stat: Two interceptions along with 10 tackles and two pass breakups
Buzz: A regular in the Aggies defensive backfield since 2017, Jones will have his work cut out for him Saturday facing four members of the Biletnikoff Award watch list in the Alabama receiving corps. Jones has excellent ball skills and can cover receivers down the field and there will be a lot asked of the Magnolia, Texas native Saturday.