TEXAS A&M AGGIES (7-2)
at ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (9-0)
Kickoff: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. EDT
Line: Alabama -14, Total: 56.5
No. 1 Alabama seeks its 10th win this season when it faces No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday.
These schools have met just four times (twice in the Cotton Bowl) with Alabama going 3-1 SU with a lopsided 30-10 win in the most recent matchup in 1988. Texas A&M is coming off a 38-13 blowout win at Mississippi State and has 52.3 PPG in its seven SU victories this year. Its two losses were to Florida and LSU, the same team the Tide eked out a victory against last week, prevailing with a game-winning TD drive in the final minute. Alabama is just 1-3 ATS at home this year despite outscoring visitors 146 to 28 (scoring margin of 29.5 PPG).
Will Alabama win comfortably over Texas A&M on Saturday? For the answer, connect to The Platinum Sheet for all the StatFox Experts picks for every key college football game throughout the 2012 season.
Texas A&M freshman QB Johnny Manziel ranks second in the nation in total offense with 383 YPG. He's thrown for 16 TD and just 6 INT while rushing for another 15 scores, including eight over the past four games. He has totaled an incredible 24 TD in five road games this year (7 TD at home). Top RB Ben Malena has also been strong in SEC road contests, rushing for 317 yards (7.5 YPC) and 3 TD in three conference road tilts. The Aggies have been a bit turnover-prone (6 TO at Ole Miss, 5 TO vs. LSU), but they have just one miscue over the past two weeks (wins at Auburn and Mississippi State), piling up 101 points and 1,364 yards of offense (682 per game). Defensively, the Aggies have been much more sound since allowing Louisiana Tech to hang 57 points on them. In the three games since, A&M opponents have just 19.3 PPG and 320 total YPG, lowering its season numbers to 21.0 PPG and 377 total YPG.
Alabama QB AJ McCarron had a poor showing against LSU (14-of-27, 165 yds), but he came up big on the game-winning drive capped off by his 19th TD pass of the season. He still hasn't thrown a single interception all year despite 204 pass attempts. Another big reason for Alabama's success has been freshman RB T.J. Yeldon, who has been especially outstanding in the past four games, rushing for 433 yards (8.0 YPC) and six touchdowns. He also caught the game-winning TD pass last week. RB Eddie Lacy has also had a strong season, rushing for 679 yards (5.7 YPC), including 83 in the last game. Defensively, Alabama still leads the nation in scoring defense (9.1 PPG), but fell to second in total defense (229 YPG) after allowing a season-high 435 yards (296 passing) to LSU. Considering how potent Kevin Sumlin's offense is at A&M (560 YPG, 5th in nation), this could be a big problem for the Tide. Alabama ranks fourth in FBS in turnover margin (+1.7 TO per game), but did not force any LSU miscues last week.