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Saturday, November 10, 2012
Greetings from Tuscaloosa

By Edward Aschoff

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Welcome to Bryant-Denny Stadium!

What a perfect day for football. The sky is blue, there's a slight breeze in the air and two extremely talented teams are set to face off in about an hour. No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC) still has something to prove as it takes on 15th-ranked Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) and its high-flying offense.

The nation's best team still has to prove itself this deep into the season. Go figure, but this team isn't happy about hearing all of that. Players have heard all week that this Alabama team showed the country a lot of weaknesses on the defensive side in its 21-17 win over LSU.

The Tide is out to prove that last week's defensive performance was a fluke. And it has quite the job ahead of it with the Aggies in town. Texas A&M owns one of the nation's best offenses and quarterback Johnny Manziel has made defenses look pretty silly this season. On the season, he's averaging 383.2 yards per game, but against the two best defenses he's faced, he really hasn't been himself.

He had 233 total yards in the Aggies' loss to Florida and 303 in their loss to LSU. Both of those defenses made tremendous adjustments in the second half to slow Johnny Football down. Expect Alabama's defense to rip a few pages out of both teams' playbooks.

A ton is on the line today. An Alabama win clinches the SEC West for the Tide, but a loss keeps A&M and LSU alive in the race. An Alabama loss also probably knocks Alabama -- and maybe the SEC -- out of the national championship game. There are just too many undefeated teams at the top right now, so the SEC's South Beach chances could be riding on Alabama.

That's a lot of pressure, but I doubt the Tide have even thought about that. Should be a fun one today.