As the clock ticked away from the Aggies' 38-13 win over Mississippi State, it became clear that Texas A&M was a new force in the SEC. Next Saturday, the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama, giving the Crimson Tide plenty to fear when the maroon and white rolls into town.
There isn’t a more explosive offense in the SEC outside of College Station with freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel taking the country by storm. After an impressive 7-2 start, the young quarterback is a dark horse Heisman candidate.
Alabama will enter the game as home favorites, but the road dogs will be coming in with nothing to lose, looking for another signature win in the SEC. The Aggies were supposed to be a bottom feeder during their first year in conference, but heading into Tuscaloosa, they have a shot at making waves at the top of the Western Division.
Looking ahead to the explosive contest to come between Texas A&M and Alabama, here are the reasons the Aggies will cause concern for the Crimson Tide.
The Aggies have quickly become the most dangerous offense in the SEC this season. Kevin Sumlin brought an explosive system from Houston, but many questioned if it could be effective in the talented SEC.
This Texas A&M offense has been unstoppable in nearly every game this year with the Sumlin scheme seeing a seamless transition in College Station. A senior leader in Ryan Swope has helped guide Manziel to success.
The Aggies are currently the No. 3 scoring, No. 5 total, No. 14 rushing and No. 19 passing offense in the country. Johnny Manziel has accounted for 31 touchdowns in nine games and has rushed for over 100 yards in five games.
Alabama has not faced an offense with this many options all season. The Crimson Tide will have issues trying to stop this talented spread offense.
Ryan Swope is the senior leader whom every young quarterback would dream of. He has been in the system for four seasons, and Swope has contributed heavily to the Aggies offense since his sophomore season.
Swope is having his best year to date this season, catching 36 passes for 520 yards and five touchdowns. He is averaging 14.4 yards per catch.
Johnny Manziel has found Swope multiple times in every single game except for one where Swope only caught one pass. He has five games with five catches or more.
When Manziel needs to find a quick play, he looks for his senior receiver. As the season has progressed, the chemistry between these two players has grown, and they are now arguably the most dangerous tandem in the country.
Alabama will have trouble corralling Swope on the outside for 60 minutes of football.
Texas A&M can get to the quarterback this year. Sacks are something this defensive line has made a top priority, and it has shown as the Aggies are ranked No. 9 in the country in sacks. They bring in 3.25 sacks a game.
Alabama is ranked No. 77 in sacks allowed this season, letting opposing defenses get to A.J. McCarron 2.13 times a game. D.J. Fluker has been a gap in the offensive line at right tackle and speed rushers have been burning past his edge to get to the quarterback.
One of the keys to the Alabama offense is rhythm, and without it, they struggle. If the Aggies can bring the pressure to the Tide as they have all season, this will be a tough game for the Alabama offense to find success in.
Alabama has gone through eight games, so far, this season and has still yet to face a complete football team. LSU precedes this A&M game, but the Tigers have been far from complete this season.
There has been no challenge that has forced Alabama to play balanced offense or defense. The Aggies will bring a dangerous offense and enough pass rush to throw the Crimson Tide off balance.
Even though this didn’t start the season as a major matchup in the conference, it has quickly become one of the best games of the season in the SEC. If the Aggies can stay balanced offensively, they stand the chance at pulling the upset.
The Aggies are driving full steam ahead right now in the SEC. This Texas A&M squad is playing its best football of the season and can play stride-for-stride with any team in the country.
A signature win is what remains for the Sumlin inaugural season, and it could happen in Tuscaloosa. This will be an Aggies team that is fighting for position in the Top 25 and battling for a better bowl game.
It will be an Alabama team that is fighting to stay alive in the national title conversation, with just one loss taking it off the throne it has sat at since January.
The pressure is on the Crimson Tide to find success and not let the upset happen at home. With the Aggies hitting on all cylinders offensively, this will be a tough win for Alabama.
As the Tide looks ahead, they should be afraid of their dreams getting shattered in front of a home crowd at the feet of the freshman phenom Johnny Manziel.