Texas A&M Aggies at Alabama Crimson Tide, Saturday Oct. 22, 3:30 p.m. ET
Remember early in the season when Nick Saban was bickering openly with Lane Kiffin, he seemed to really be missing Kirby Smart on defense, youth and inexperience were more of a factor than ever for the program, and it seemed logical to wonder if this team was even remotely close to what they were last year when they won it all? Yeah, ignore all that. This team isn't as good as they were during last year's championship season. At this stage they are better.
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Texas A&M at Alabama Betting Storylines
We need to talk about what Alabama did last week. They had to head on the road to Tennessee. The Volunteers had just lost a nail-biter to these Aggies and were unbeaten before that. This was not exactly a showdown between equals, but it was supposed to be a big test for Alabama - by far the biggest test they had faced on the season. I'll say that I was very skeptical about Tennessee all year - something I wrote regularly. In my mind, though, I expected this to be a reasonably tight contest. I expected Alabama to win, but not before we witnessed a battle. I couldn't have been more wrong. The final score was 49-10. Tennessee had practically patented the second half comeback this season. This time, though, they lost the last 30 minutes 28-3. Alabama rushed for 438 yards. Tennessee had 163 yards of total offense. It was a total bloodbath. It was the kind of domination you expect to see in a nonconference game against a school few people know anything about, not a Top 10 squad playing at home. For the Vols it was an unmitigated disaster. For the Tide it was the ultimate statement game. For bettors it was a bit of a nightmare because, as we will see when we discuss the odds, it meant that expectations for this team were ratcheted even higher than they were - which is saying something for the No. 1 team in the country and defending National Champions.
Here's the issue I have with the Aggies up to this point. They have not proven a single thing despite their 7-0 record. Sure, they do some nice things. Myles Garrett is ridiculous, the team runs very well, and so on. All they have done against the schedule they have faced, though, is pretty much what you would expect. Beating UCLA at home in their opener proves meaningless given how bad the Bruins have shown themselves to be. Beating Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina - who really cares? They won against Tennessee, but it was hardly dominating - they tried their hardest to lose it. Their record means very little because they haven't been tested. You look at what they offer on paper, and who they have played, and anything less than 6.5 wins would be a massive letdown. That doesn't mean that they are particularly good or that this is a battle for SEC supremacy. It just means that the schedule makers didn't front load the schedule for a decent SEC team. As things turn out, they didn't really backload it, either. This is a team that could very easily win 11 games, get crushed in this one, and yet still land in a big, juicy bowl game. Trevor Knight has been average at best at QB, and they have other issues that likely stop them from contending with the elites, but they are better than the average team and get a manageable schedule. This is all a long way of saying this - people get fooled by records all the time, but I don't think you should let the record of the Aggies fool you here or down the line if and when they are playing another real game.
Texas A&M at Alabama Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened at 16.5 points and has mostly stayed at that level, though 17 can also be found regularly as I write. Betting action has been evenly split between the two teams in early action, so at this early stage it seems unlikely that we will see major line movement.
The Aggies, who did not cover last week, are just 1-6 ATS in their last seven following an ATS loss. They have gone "under" the total in their last seven road games, and the under is 8-2-1 in their last 11 overall. The Tide are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 against teams with winning records and 4-1 ATS in their last five home games.
Texas A&M at Alabama Predictions and Picks
Sometimes I work hard to hide my opinion until I get to this section of the preview. This is, quite obviously, not one of these spots. I have a ton of respect for Alabama. I don't buy what Texas A&M is selling. There is a gap here. A big one. Taking Alabama requires giving up a lot of points, but I see no option but to do so. Alabama is the pick.
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