Staff Predictions for Alabama vs. Texas A&M
Now that Alabama has hit the thick of the SEC schedule, Blake Sims and company have struggled offensively and will look to change that this weekend. The Crimson Tide averaged 42 points per game in their first four games, but have only averaged 18 points since.
Alabama will be facing a Texas A&M team that has been on a roller coaster for the most part this season. After what seemed to be a signature win against South Carolina to open the season, the Aggies haven't looked quite as sharp and have lost two consecutive games.
With both teams looking to regain early-season form and remain in the SEC West race, let's take a look at how the staff sees this game shaking out.
Chris Stewart (Host of "The Chris Stewart Show")
The challenge is much different for Alabama this week, but it is every bit as large.
Instead of slopping around in the rain in Fayetteville, when the Tide and Texas A&M square off at Bryant-Denny, footballs - rather than rain, clouds - will fill the skies.
The secondary will be pushed to the limits, and in order to help them out, the Bama defensive front will have to push the pocket.
If they keep Kenny Hill on the run, and take care of the football (a major IF the past few weeks), then the Tide will head into Tennessee week still with just one loss. Alabama 31, Texas A&M 27
Ryan Fowler (Host of "The Game")
I have written this prediction three times, so this is my final edit. I went back and forth with who wins this game. Texas A&M averages 396 yards per game through the air and questions still exist about Alabama’s secondary. Can Alabama really cover this many talented WRs? No, this is my problem with picking Alabama. However, Alabama’s offense will have a chance to get back on track with a defense that ranks near the bottom in the SEC.
Alabama will attempt to run the football to increase its time of possession and limit the chances Kenny Hill has to pick apart Alabama’s secondary. This game is close and will come down to the 4th quarter and which team can make the biggest improvement by correcting the mistakes in the previous two weeks. A difference maker in the game will be the rowdy and loud fans inside Bryant-Denny Stadium. Alabama 28, Texas A&M 27
Ryan McMunn (Producer of 'The Chris Stewart Show' and 'The Game')
I'll eventually get a score close at some point in time this season, and this is the week. I guarantee it. I said before the season that Alabama would drop at least one game, and that loss would be to the Aggies of Texas A&M. Well, after watching the past seven weeks of football, my opinion has changed slightly, but the Tide still isn't out of the woods just yet. A&M has done whatever they wanted to do offensively against Alabama since joining the SEC, and this year won't change that trend. Alabama opened as an 11 point favorite over the Aggies, but A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has found a way to negate Nick Saban's defensive game plan, so expect a track meet this game.
One thing that you need to keep an eye on is the performance of Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. Did last week rattle him, or was that the kind of game that could be an emotional catalyst for him to play better than he did earlier in the season? Alabama's secondary has been shaky all season, and with A&M having weapons like freshman phenom Speedy Noil out wide, this could make things very interesting for the Tide. In the end, Alabama's offensive line will not play near as bad against the Aggies as they did against Arkansas last week, and we'll get a heavy dose of the running game, as Texas A&M sports the 82nd ranked rush defense in the country. Alabama wins, but doesn't cover the opening line of 11 points. Alabama 38, Texas A&M 31
Trey Brooks (Producer)
Alabama has had tough sledding the past two weeks. Fortunately, A&M has been worse. This game comes down to the mindset of the Aggies. If they come in with some desperation, they have the passing attack to give Bama fits. If their confidence is shot, you have to like Alabama against a suspect A&M defense. Alabama 24, Texas A&M 17
Kevin Connell (Contributor)
After a scorching hot start to the season, the Alabama offense has cooled down quite a bit the last two weeks and is part of the reason why the Crimson Tide fell at Ole Miss and narrowly got by unranked Arkansas.
But now the offense gets as favorable as a matchup as you can ask for with Texas A&M. As good as the Aggies have been since they joined the SEC, they have still not quite gotten up to par defensively with some of the other teams in the conference, allowing 397 yards (70th nationally) and 22.6 points per game (48th nationally) so far this season.
They also play Alabama on the road, where the Crimson Tide just so happens to have had the majority of its offensive success this season, putting up over 600 yards of offense in two of its three games there.
Texas A&M, with its high-powered offense, will score some, but Alabama will too and break out of its funk. Alabama 31, Texas A&M 21
Ben George (Digital Managing Editor)
Alabama enters this game as a double-digit favorite over Texas A&M, but I’m not sure why. Sure, the Crimson Tide has better talent and the game is in Tuscaloosa, but it’s hard to find a huge edge on the field through the first half of the season. After four games, Alabama’s offense looked like a world beater, but the last six quarters have only netted 17 points. The most troubling stat has been turnover margin. Alabama ranks 95th in that category and it could be a lot worse if not for dropped interceptions and recovering their own fumbles.
Then you look at what Texas A&M does best: pass. The last two years have shown us that Kevin Sumlin’s offense gives this defense fits. The Alabama secondary, which has shown improvement in recent weeks, remains the weakest part of this defense and it will be tested for 60 minutes. In the Aggies only two road SEC games, they have attempted at least 60 passes, and I expect it to be no different this Saturday.
It’s essential that Alabama gets off to a quick start in this game because it might not be equipped to come back from a two or three touchdown deficit. You beat the Aggies by stopping the pass and turning quarterback Kenny Hill over. At this point, I don’t think Alabama is able to do that well enough. Texas A&M 38, Alabama 35