Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas A&M Aggies Expert Picks and Betting Predictions
Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas A&M Aggies, Saturday Oct. 7, 7:15 p.m. ET
I chose this game for a few reasons this week from among all I could have written about. For one thing, the slate of games this weekend isn't hugely compelling, so this likely lopsided affair was no less compelling than a lot of games played by major contenders. Second, there are a few reasonably interesting storylines here as we will see in the next section. And, most significantly, I chose it because this should be a great matchup. It won't be because one team is great and one team is struggling, but there is no reason that this shouldn't be a tight, tense showdown. That it isn't is entirely the fault of the Aggies, who have no excuse for being as generally underwhelming as they have been for the last few years.
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Alabama at Texas A&M Betting Storylines
I have come to the realization that I don't really think of coaches as real people. If I did then I wouldn't take such pleasure when they were fired or when they are in real danger of getting canned. The 4-1 start by the Aggies has helped Kevin Sumlin's case a little, but the vultures are still circling. He was 11-2 in his first season, finishing ranked fifth in the nation. And he hasn't taken a step forward in the four years since. He was 9-4 in year two and then 8-5 in the next three years. For some programs 8-5 would be solid and acceptable. For Oregon State or Rutgers it would be a miracle. But for a school with the resources that the Aggies have - selling 100,000 tickets a game provides a few bucks to spend - there is no excuse for the mediocrity. And a guy who a couple of years ago was rumored to be capable of getting any NFL head coaching job he wanted looks less inspired and less competent with each passing season. Just a few years after winning a Heisman, he can't keep a blue chip quarterback in town and can't keep any QB that stays around healthy. By year five Sumlin should be able to give Alabama at least a decent challenge. Being nearly four touchdown underdogs at home does not qualify as providing a decent challenge. Losing this game by itself won't be fatal for Sumlin, but getting embarrassed sure wouldn't help his case.
Alabama has not played a tough schedule so far - especially given how far Florida State has fallen since that opening loss to the Tide. What the defense has been able to do, though, is impressive - even given the standard we hold this team to after years of excellence. In their last two weeks they have beaten Vanderbilt 59-0 and Ole Miss 66-3. Those aren't good SEC programs right now, but they are still SEC programs, and no team should win conference games like this. Vanderbilt managed just 78 total yards and three first downs. Texas A&M has only been okay on offense - and a pathetic 95th in passing yards. And they have not played an elite defense so far - or particularly close. Freshman Kellen Mond has been pressed into action before he was ready, and the team has had to simplify things as a result. Simple is not a way that is going to score points in bulk against Alabama. Not that we needed a lot, but the defense for the Tide is a solid reason to feel optimistic about their chances here.
Alabama at Texas A&M Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Alabama favored by 25.5 points, and that wasn't enough for bettors as it has since climbed to 26.5 in most spots . Alabama is still receiving about 70 percent of all bets, so we could easily see the line climb to or through the key number of 28. The total opened at 57 and has since fallen to 54, with a further fall possible.
Alabama is 8-1 ATS in their last nine conference games, 12-2 ATS in their last 14 road games, and 16-7 ATS in their last 23 against teams with winning records. But they are just 2-5 ATS in their last seven played on grass. Texas A&M s a dismal 16-34-1 ATS in their last 51 against teams with winning records and 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 overall. Despite playing at home on grass they are also lousy on the surface - 9-23-1 ATS in their last 33.
Alabama at Texas A&M Predictions and Picks
Normally I wouldn't bet a line like this. What's the point? But there is a play here. Texas A&M's record is inflated by their lack of opposition. They don't have a QB we can trust, their offense is far from sophisticated, and defensively they let UCLA and Arkansas score pretty much at will, so they are certainly vulnerable. Alabama hasn't been particularly tested yet, but their defense is outstanding, their offense is more than solid, and they are playing angry. They will be focused, and they are playing like they have something to prove after falling short last year. They aren't going to let the Aggies trip them up, and I have no faith that Sumlin and company can do anything about that. Alabama is the play - the public is right on this one.
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