Alabama rolls into College Station with revenge on the brain against college football’s best offense, led by the best player in Johnny Manziel. And the Tide have several factors in their corner, as do the Aggies.
Alabama enters as the 7.5-point favorite and are expected to run through their schedule for another championship and complete the three-peat.
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Here are five factors that favor the Tide on Saturday:
Head coach: Of course, right? Nick Saban is the best coach in college football currently, and he may be the best coach in college football history. The way he has his club dominating with so much parity has been altogether fun and impressive to watch. And any time Saban has an extra week to prepare, it’s an asset. Saban is 22-4 in road games and 14-5 against top 10 opponents at Alabama. Taking nothing away from Kevin Sumlin, Alabama has the coaching edge.
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September: Last year the game was played in November – this year it’s in September. Who does that benefit? Alabama. The Aggies’ defense has struggled through two weeks, letting Rice and Sam Houston State slice and dice the front seven. Mark Snyder took a questionable defense in 2012 and put together a championship contender. The Aggies finished ninth in the SEC in total defense last season, and before they can have time to gel as a unit in 2013, like they did in 2012, Alabama comes calling. Alabama catches the Aggies’ defense before it has a chance to improve throughout the season’s longevity.
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Running game: The biggest mismatch in the game is the Tide’s running game against the Aggies’ defense. TAMU has given up an average of 273 rushing yards per game. Bama may not have impressed you against Virginia Tech, and the Aggies arguably have the better overall running game, but Bama is twice as good as Rice, who ran for 306 yards. TJ Yeldon has to be licking his chops, along with Nick Saban, because the Tide can control the time of possession and keep Manziel on the sideline.
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Experience: Alabama has been there, done that. Experience only takes a team so far, but planning and preparing for a big game and knowing the chaotic atmosphere helps in big games. The Tide have played in several crazy environments, and the Aggies have played in one – in Tuscaloosa, and they came out victorious. With AJ McCarron, Yeldon, CJ Mosley and others having played on college football’s biggest stage multiple times, Alabama has an edge. The experience of winning two championships in a row and having that target on their backs is an asset.
Defense: Until otherwise noted and brutally proved wrong, the SEC is still a defensive league. Defense wins championships, right? Alabama’s defense is arguably the top in the SEC and the country, and the Aggies’ defense is giving up over 29 points and 449 yards per game. Alabama’s defense is much better, and that has to be comforting for Saban and the coaching staff. Photo Credit: Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports