One of the juiciest matchups on the first October Saturday pits SEC West rivals No. 13 Texas A&M Aggies against the No. 2. Alabama Crimson Tide. Both teams are 1-0 to start their conference-only schedules.
Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM Eastern on CBS. Alabama is a 17.5-point favorite, with the over/under for the game set at 51.5.
What to Know – Texas A&M
In a word, Texas A&M’s 17-12 season-opening win against Vanderbilt was sloppy. Senior quarterback Kellen Mond fumbled three times and lost two of them.
Running back Isaiah Spiller was held to five yards rushing at halftime. A personal foul penalty committed into the endzone led to a safety for the Commodores. Despite playing at home, the Aggies couldn’t get out of their own way.
Even in the second half, when the offense was able to effectively move the ball, the little mistakes kept them from building and extending the lead. Texas A&M was listed as a 30-point favorite heading into the game. The Aggies were also called for eight penalties for 50 yards.
“We made the plays when we had to but, man too much inconsistency,” Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We’ve just got to get them to play better and that’s my fault.”
The Aggie offense will need better production from everyone against Alabama, but mostly from Mond. Mond completed 17 of 28 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown against Vanderbilt, but the fumbles led to a QBR of 32.2, more than 25 points worse than Vanderbilt’s true freshman quarterback Ken Seals.
Spiller and fellow running back Ainias Smith are capable of controlling the time of possession and stringing big plays together. Smith’s versatility out of the backfield makes him a rushing and receiving threat, while Spiller’s 57-yard gallop in the third quarter led to an A&M touchdown. Both should help take pressure off of Mond and provide a puzzle for Alabama’s defense to solve.
What to Know – Alabama
Similar to Texas A&M, Alabama was victorious in Week 1 but was unable to cover the spread. Unfortunately for bettors who thought the Crimson Tide would cover, it was somewhat of a bad beat.
Alabama was a 27.5-point favorite against Missouri and led 35-3 early in the third quarter. After that, Alabama began resting some of the starters, and Missouri was able to cut into the deficit with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns. The Crimson Tide won 38-19, but easily could have won by a bigger margin.
Mac Jones looked more than capable of commanding the Alabama offense after Tua Tagovailoa was drafted fifth overall by Miami in the 2020 NFL Draft. He completed 18 of 24 passes, two of which came on the first drive before Alabama got into any kind of rhythm on the road. True freshman Bryce Young, who came on in relief in the second half, looked decent as well, despite losing a fumble.
Najee Harris once again looked like one of the top running backs in college football. Harris ran the ball 17 times for 98 yards and three touchdowns. The dynamic wide receiving tandem of Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith combined for 16 catches, 223 yards, and two scores. All three should be first-round picks in the 2021 Draft.
Alabama’s defense held strong as ever, with three sacks, eight TFLs, and two fumble recoveries. Expect them to make things miserable for Mond on Saturday afternoon.
The Pick Is In
Alabama should win this game at home, but after last week, there is cause for pause about taking them to cover a 17.5-point spread. The delayed start to the season and short prep time certainly hurt Texas A&M against Vanderbilt, but the Aggies should look more fundamentally sound this week.
Take Alabama (-17.5) to win and cover, but bet the over as well. It will pay off when Alabama rests starters in the second half and may cut your losses if Texas A&M covers the spread in garbage time.