Only one day until college football’s most anticipated game kicks off.
Yesterday, we looked at five factors that favor Alabama, but Texas A&M also has factors in their corner, too.
12th Man: Ask Nick Saban and Kevin Sumlin whether they would like to play this game at home or on the road. Kyle Field will be busting at the seams with students and fans backing their favorite team. First used as the school’s moniker in the 1920s, the 12th Man is one of the best traditions, environments and experiences in college football. And you better believe the 10 months of hype leading up to this game will have fans ready. Imagine the energy and electricity Saturday.
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Best player: Anytime any team has the best player on the field, they have an edge. Johnny Manziel is that player. On the field, he’s the it factor every coach is looking for in a quarterback. His 345 total yards and two touchdowns lifted the Aggies to victory last year. That freshman scrambling quarterback turned Peyton Manning in the second half and hit big throws to Ryan Swope and Malcome Kennedy to pull the upset. And there isn’t a sophomore slump in the works either. He’s thrown for 520 yards and is tied for an SEC-high six touchdown passes. Manziel may go off tomorrow and eclipse his 345-total yard mark. All good plans go to waste when Manziel breaks contain, and the creativity is incredible to watch.
Week 2 tune-up: While you can argue Alabama has the upper hand with the bye week, getting an extra week for the coaching staff to solely prepare for Manziel and company, playing a week two tune-up game was better for the Aggies, particularly the offense. Timing is everything in Kevin Sumlin’s system, and the offense has put up serious numbers in the first two weeks. Sure, they would have liked to have played against a better defense than Sam Houston, but it may not really matter because the timing of the offensive system is most important. I would rather have been Texas A&M and have a week two game than Alabama and have a bye week, especially this early in the season.
No pressure: The team that has the most pressure entering Saturday? It has to be Alabama. With all the dynasty and three-peat talk, the Crimson Tide has to always live up to that hype. The one player with the most pressure? AJ McCarron. He’s tried to separate himself from being in the shadow of Manziel all off-season; he’s the Anti-Manziel, and he’s good at it. But I’m not sure we’ve seen Johnny Manziel play nervous one time, like there is any pressure on him. The Tide have the most pressure entering Saturday. We’ll see how they handle it.
Passing game: To beat Alabama, teams have to run the ball 60 percent of the time at minimum and be productive doing it, but teams also have to throw the ball and stretch the field. It’s called a balanced and complete offensive attack. It’s one thing to game plan for Alabama; it’s another to execute effectively. Bama’s defense is very good, but the one area of concern for Saban and Kirby Smart is the secondary. How will corners Geno Smith, Deion Belue and John Fulton cover 6-5 Mike Evans, 6-4 JaQuay Williams and 6-5 Ricky Seals-Jones, among others? It’s the biggest opportunity and mismatch the Aggies have in their favor, and I’m feeling good about that if I’m Kevin Sumlin.
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