Thursday, September 12, 2013
Top things to know: Alabama at Texas A&M
By ESPN Stats & Information
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesA rematch 10 months in the making is almost here as the top-ranked Alabama Crimson Tide travel to College Station to take on No. 6 Texas A&M this Saturday. Here are five storylines to watch in this game.
Kyle Field, home to 6th-ranked Texas A&M and the 12th man, will host No. 1 Alabama Saturday.
1. Johnny Manziel and the Aggies tagged Alabama with its only loss last season, and in Tuscaloosa nonetheless. Now, the Tide seeks revenge, which is something they’ve done successfully under Nick Saban, going 7-1 in revenge games with an average margin of victory of 20.9 points in those wins.
2. Alabama is coming off a bye week, but the Tide have had mixed results in the regular season when having an extra week to prepare for teams.
Under Nick Saban, Alabama is 4-3 when coming off a regular season bye, with all three losses coming to LSU (2007, 2010, 2011). However, LSU also had bye weeks entering all three of those games. For a bit more perspective, in the four such wins, Alabama has outscored opponents 126-45.
3. Does Johnny Manziel have a successful encore for last year’s performance when he carved up Alabama?
Manziel completed 4-of-5 passes thrown 20 yards or longer in Texas A&M’s 29-24 victory last November.
Alabama’s other 13 opponents combined to complete only 24 percent of their passes of this distance and threw 10 interceptions on 66 attempts.
4. Let’s not overlook the performance of the A&M defense. The Aggies rank 92nd so far this season in total defense and 115th against the run.
They were outgained against Rice (509-486) and allowed 240 rushing yards to FCS-member Sam Houston State last week.
Alabama will need to improve on its offensive performance two weeks ago against Virginia Tech. The Tide totaled 206 total yards and averaged just 2.5 yards per carry.
5. The schedule-makers did A&M no favors by making this the SEC opener for both teams. Alabama has won 21 straight SEC openers. Not only is that the longest active streak for any team in FBS, nobody else is even close.
The next longest? Boise State, which has won 13 straight conference openers, but has done that in three different conferences (Big West, WAC, Mountain West). Lastly, Alabama is 21-0 in September since 2008.