Alabama Vs. Texas A&M Game Preview: Everything You Need To Know Before Kickoff
No. 21 Texas A&M (5-2, 2-2 SEC) at No. 7 Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC)
When: Saturday, Oct. 18 at 2:30 p.m. CT
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Weather: Mostly sunny with a high of 76 degrees, winds NNW at 9 mph, 0 percent chance of rain.
TV: CBS (Play-by-play: Verne Lundquist, color analyst: Gary Danielson, sideline reporter: Allie LaForce)
Radio: Crimson Tide Sports Network (Play-by-play: Eli Gold, color analyst: Phil Savage, sideline reporter: Chris Stewart). Pregame coverage begins at 9:30 a.m. CT.
Spread: Alabama (-12½-15), according to Danny Sheridan. The Crimson Tide has now been favored in 61 consecutive games, starting with its 2009 BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas.
Last Meeting: The then-No. 1 Crimson Tide outlasted the No. 6 Aggies, 49-42, in College Station on Sept. 14, 2013.
Series History: Alabama leads the all-time series, 4-2. The Crimson Tide is 1-1 against Texas A&M since 2012 – the Aggies’ first year in the SEC.
It took a few big stops on defense in the fourth quarter for the Crimson Tide to hold off Arkansas, 14-13, in Fayetteville.
The Razorbacks held a 13-7 advantage heading into the final quarter, but Alabama soon took the lead and never relinquished it. Landon Collins intercepted a pass with two minutes remaining that all but sealed the victory for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama overcome a slew of turnovers on special teams and offensive futility in the win. Defensive end Jonathan Allen prevented what proved to be the decisive point of the game when he blocked the extra point following the Razorbacks’ first touchdown of the game in the second quarter.
For the second straight week, the Aggies fell flat against an SEC school from the state of Mississippi, this time in a 35-20 loss at home against Ole Miss.
In what was the largest crowd (110,633) to ever attend a football game in the state of Texas as well as in SEC history, the Rebels silenced the 12th Man at Kyle Field early, racing out to a 21-0 halftime lead. It was the first time under coach Kevin Sumlin that Texas A&M was held scoreless at the half.
Despite throwing for 401 yards and two touchdowns on 42-of-53 passing, Aggies quarterback Kenny Hill struggled to get into a groove and threw two interceptions.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Ole Miss had built its lead up to 35-7. Two of the Rebels’ five touchdowns on the night came from the defense (75-yard interception return and 21-yard fumble return).
Keep an eye on:
Leon Brown/Alphonse Taylor, right guard: Who will start? Will both play, or just one? It won’t be surprising to see either Leon Brown or Alphonse Taylor get the nod at right guard on Saturday, and it won’t be surprising if both rotate in and out of the position during the game, either. Alabama’s right guard position has been up in the air since the first week of the season, and it was particularly a weak point last week at Arkansas. Playing against a Texas A&M defense that ranks ninth nationally in total sacks (21), it will need to be a strong suit on Saturday if the Crimson Tide wants to get back on a groove offensively.
Blake Sims, quarterback: As good as Blake Sims was through Alabama’s first four games, he has been almost equally as bad in the last two, struggling in two road games in which the Crimson Tide went 1-1. He will have a good opportunity to bounce back against a Texas A&M team that ranks 71st in total defense, and he will need to if the Crimson Tide wants to still make a run at the SEC West title.
Kenny Hill, quarterback: The Aggies haven’t missed in offensive production under the first-year starting quarterback, who replaced the departed Johnny Manziel this season, but his play has been off just a bit the last two weeks in losses to Mississippi State and Ole Miss. Hill, a sophomore who ranks near the top nationally in almost every major statistical offensive category, will need to revert back to his playing form in his first five games – or better yet, play Manziel-like – to lead the Aggies past Alabama.
Myles Garrett, defensive end: There might not be a better freshman in the country this season and his stats will back that up. Through seven games, Garrett, the top prospect in the nation in the 2014 recruiting class, ranks fourth nationally in sacks with 7.5 – good for 1.07 sacks per game. Garrett was the only Texas A&M player Saban mentioned by name during his Wednesday press conference, making it fairly clear that he will be a player the Alabama offensive line needs to neutralize in the game to help Blake Sims play effectively.
- Center Ryan Kelly is doubtful for Saturday and will likely miss his second straight game with a sprained knee, though he did return to practice this week in a limited role. Kelly suffered the injury in the Crimson Tide’s loss at Ole Miss two weeks ago. On the Monday after the Ole Miss game, Nick Saban said Kelly would be out for “at least several weeks.”
- Outside linebacker Denzel Devall sustained a high ankle sprain that required surgery, also in the loss at Ole Miss. Devall is expected to miss one to two more weeks.
- Left guard Arie Kouandjio (ankle) is questionable for Saturday but is expected to play. Saban said on Wednesday that Kouandjio didn’t practice “maybe more than 15 reps in a practice last week.”
- Running back Tyren Jones (finger) is also questionable for Saturday. Jones, who had been out with a torn tendon in his finger that required surgery, has practiced without a black, non-contact jersey since Tuesday. On Wednesday, Saban said that Jones “might be” available to play against Texas A&M.
- Safety Ronnie Clark is out for the remainder of the season with a torn Achilles tendon suffered during the media’s viewing period of practice on Tuesday. The injury occurred during a non-contact situation and Clark limped off the field with the help of a trainer. On Wednesday, Saban said Clark was “just taking a step backwards.”
- Starting linebacker A.J. Hilliard has been out with a dislocated ankle since the Aggies’ season opener against South Carolina.
- Wide receiver Malcome Kennedy is questionable with a shoulder injury. Kennedy caught three touchdown passes against Alabama last season.