Alabama Crimson Tide: Aggies carry some advantages into Saturday


Oddsmakers give TAMU little chance to upset the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aggies do have some advantages going into the game.

The spread for Saturday’s Alabama Crimson Tide vs. Texas A&M (TAMU) game floats between two and three touchdowns. Most Alabama football fans are sure the Tide is at little risk for an upset.

A good reason for such optimism was the Aggies’ last game against Arkansas. The Hogs were almost too much for Jimbo’s team. Given how poorly the Razorbacks have performed in Chad Morris’ tenure, TAMU eking out a victory suggests the Tide will not be seriously threatened.

Bet the farm if you choose, but before you do, consider the Aggies have some advantages that could make the game closer than expected. One of those advantages is playing at Kyle Field. The building is huge and loud thanks to one of the most passionate fanbases in college football. Saturday afternoon’s contest is a chance for the Aggies to regain some national prestige. Jimbo’s team will play hard in front of its home crowd.

The other advantages are less obvious, but also real. The Alabama Crimson Tide is likely to again shuffle its starting offensive line. Landon Dickerson is expected to slide over from guard to center.

The normal starter at center, Chris Owens is questionable for the game. Tide fans are high on Dickerson and many believe the lineup of Leatherwood, Neal, Dickerson, Brown and Wills is the Tide’s best five. But changing a center for an SEC road game can create problems. Communication issues could result. Teammates respect Owens for his leadership and knowledge. Dickerson is the more physical player but there is more to playing center than being physical.

Another advantage for the Aggies is Kellen Mond’s history against the Crimson Tide. In two previous games, he has passed for 433 yards and rushed for 112 yards against the Tide. His completion percentage facing an Alabama football defense has been only 56 percent. This season, Mond has upped his accuracy to 64.6 percent. While he has mostly stayed in the pocket, Mond is a skillful runner and the kind of mobile quarterback who has given past Tide defenses problems.

One huge advantage for the Aggies is the kicking game. Jimbo has the best punter in the SEC and one of the best in the nation in Braden Mann. He is the kind of weapon the Tide once had in J.K. Scott. Mann’s numbers are down slightly this season but he is averaging 50.2 yards for his career. Placekicker Seth Small has never missed an extra point in his career and has made eight-of-ten field goals this season. He has a big leg.

The last TAMU advantage is perhaps debatable. It is Jimbo Fisher. To the extent former Nick Saban assistants are intimidated going against their former boss – and we believe most of them are, Jimbo is not. College football coaches plagued by doubt do not survive. That is not a problem for Fisher. Jimbo’s rapidly firing mind leaves little space for worry about external factors. In that way, he is a bit like Nick Saban. To the extent his mind slows down long enough to consider it, we sense he relishes the opportunity to battle a college football legend.

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