The No. 1 team in the nation walks into the classic letdown situation, as the Alabama Crimson Tide (9-0) stay home for a SEC showdown with the Texas A&M Aggies (7-2).
The Tide pulled out a late-game save against LSU, coined by some as "The Rally in Death Valley." After an emotional win in what had the feel of the Game of the Century, Alabama may have a tough time getting amped up for an encore.
They had better. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies have brought a shot of offense to the SEC. They play a spread and no-huddle offense that keeps Nick Saban up at night.
The rest of the country has noticed; The SEC Logo contributes to the “Johnny Football” hype that’s gotten the sports world talking upset:
What do Florida, Mizzou, Kentucky, & Auburn have in common? The all have less total yards than Johnny Manziel. #SEC— The SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo) November 3, 2012
Can Texas A&M surprise the Crimson Tide after its season-defining win? Spread, predictions and more below.
When: Saturday, November 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Bryant-Denney Stadium, Tuscaloosa, AL
Watch: CBS, CBSLive (Stream)
Listen: XM 91 (SiriusXM)
Spread: Alabama -13.5 (Bovada)
Over Under: 56.5
Vegas isn’t worried about Alabama having a letdown. The nation’s No. 1 team is favored heavily by just under two touchdowns. With the chatter about Manziel and the Aggies heating up, this could lower under 13 and cross that key number. However, as good as the Tide was last week, it most certainly won’t stay there.
Of their nine games this season, Alabama has won seven of them by 25 points or more. None of those teams, though are Top-25 caliber.
Texas A&M’s worst loss came against LSU by only five points. This team has the ability to get ahead in games and stay competitive with their high powered offense.
It’s important to add, though, that both of the Aggies’ high-profile matchups have occurred at home. They have yet to be an underdog on the road this season. By the same token, on the road they have covered the spread in four out of six.
Texas A&M Injury Report (USA Today)
OL Shep Klinke (Foot)- OUT
RB Brandon Williams (Eligibility)-OUT
Alabama Injury Report (USA Today)
RB Eddie Lacy (Leg)- PROBABLE
RB Dee Hart (Knee)- OUT
WR DeAndrew White (Knee)- OUT
RB Jalston Fowler (Knee)- OUT
DB Jarrick Williams (Knee)- OUT
WR Chris Black (Shoulder)- OUT
For the Crimson Tide, every game is a BCS-or-bust game from here on out. After their win over LSU, ‘Bama will take the SEC West title with a victory this Saturday.
If they were to lose to the Aggies, the Tide would have to win at Auburn to still lock up an SEC Championship berth. In that scenario, A&M would have to win out to get to Atlanta—a tough task, but stranger things have happened in the final weeks of college football.
The Aggies, on the other hand, have everything to gain from this matchup. If they win, they will jump into the top ten by the Week 11 polls. If the Tide impose their will on A&M, don’t expect them to drop much from the rankings. Losing to the nation’s top team will not hurt their résumé or perception.
Key for Texas A&M Victory: Winning the Turnover Battle
Texas A&M will be able to score, and likely score early. They have had early leads against both LSU and Florida in this season, yet turnovers let their opponents back in the game.
While Manziel makes a ton of positive plays with the football, he can force the issues at times against opportunistic defenses. Coach Kevin Sumlin will trust in Manziel to be wary against Alabama’s defense, but will it stick? Whether he throws an interception or takes a sack on a critical play could be the turning point in this game.
Conversely, if the Aggie defense can force a turnover they will certainly be better off. AJ McCarron has yet to throw an interception this season, so the Aggies will be hard pressed to get one with their pass defense.
Key for Alabama Victory: Not Being Complacent
Nick Saban’s teams are not ones to be complacent after big wins. Even so, most of these players have not experienced losing since 2010, so that can contribute to a complacent team that possesses a can’t-lose mentality. In this sport, though, every team gives the No. 1 team their best game, and A&M’s best game is the best offense Alabama has faced.
All that aside, Alabama shouldn’t have an issue considering they have been in this scenario before. Plus, hopefully they’ll watch this hype video (h/t SabanSays and SouthernGameday):
Texas A&M vs Alabama 2012 Hype Video ow.ly/f64tS— Coach Saban (@SabanSays) November 8, 2012
Alabama 27 Texas A&M 21
Don’t believe the hype—this Crimson Tide should dispose of A&M in the final period.
Manziel and the offense should keep the Aggies above water early, but the Tide will wear down their defense with a heavy dose of Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon.