No. 1 Alabama will face its toughest road test of the season and will play a ranked team for the first time in 2019 when it goes against No. 24 Texas A&M in College Station, Texas, on Saturday afternoon in the SEC on CBS Game of the Week. After both teams were off last week they should come out swinging in this key SEC West battle.
The Crimson Tide have cruised through the first month of the season thanks to quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and a wide receiving corps that is four-deep with ultra-talented weapons. Texas A&M is coming off of a four-quarter battle with Arkansas that resulted in a 31-27 win -- their first conference win of the season.
What will happen Saturday afternoon? Let's break down the game and make some picks straight up and against the spread.
Alabama:Tagovailoa has been absolutely money this year. The junior has thrown 23 touchdowns, zero interceptions and is second in the nation in passer rating at 225.15. He seemingly chooses his best weapon outside on any given Saturday. DeVonta Smith was just that last time out when he set single-game school receiving records with 274 yards and five touchdowns. "Alabama problems" are way different than those of normal schools. But if there are issues, it's in the running game and on defense. The Tide rank seventh in the SEC in rushing with 174 yards per game, and are averaging just 115.5 YPG against SEC teams. The defense is fifth in the SEC in yards per play at 4.58 and sixth against conference foes at 5.37. Shane Lee and the rest of the middle linebackers have done a good job replacing Dylan Moses and Joshua McMillon, but there's still work to be done.
Texas A&M:Things have not gone well for the Aggies this season. The offense couldn't get going in losses to Clemson and Auburn, and they barely hung on to beat an Arkansas team that is one of the worst in the conference. The rushing attack has struggled -- especially with Jashaun Corbin out for the year. Their single-game high in rushing yards against a Power Five team came against Arkansas two weeks ago when they managed just 89. Quarterback Kellen Mond has had a hard time finding consistency downfield as a result of the running game woes. They have done a pretty good job getting into the backfield. Defensive lineman Justin Madubuike is third in the SEC with six tackles for loss, and linebacker Buddy Johnson is fifth with 5.5.
The Crimson Tide defense hasn't been up to their lofty standards this year, but coach Nick Saban's crew is fully capable of shutting down the Texas A&M rushing attack. Is Mond going to be able to do it all himself? He has great receivers to work with, including Jhamon Ausbon and Quartney Davis, but it won't be enough this time. Alabama will slant Texas A&M to death to build an early lead, force Mond to win with his arm, take advantage of mistakes generated from pressure and pull away in the fourth quarter to get the win and late cover.Pick: Alabama (-17.5)
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