College Football Predictions: Alabama at Texas A&M Odds and Picks
by Trevor Whenham - 9/12/2013
If you had told me five years ago that a conference matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama would be the most anticipated game of the year, I’d have been certain you were doing too many drugs. Yet, that is exactly where we are. This game has everything — huge egos, great players, high stakes, controversy, a thirst for revenge, massive national appeal, and quite possibly a shot at a National Championship on the line. For better or worse, this is what college football is all about.
There are so many storylines to choose from, but, first and foremost, you really can’t look past the revenge element. When the Aggies went into Alabama and won last year, it shook the college football world. The Tide were supposed to be unstoppable at home — especially against an upstart team. It didn’t ultimately cost Alabama their national title, but it did all but win Johnny Manziel the Heisman and launch the bizarre phenomenon that he has become. Alabama doesn’t like to lose, and they really don’t like to lose to a relative outsider. Nick Saban has had this game circled on his calendar for a year, and you know he won’t rest until he gets a win against Kevin Sumlin and company. For most coaches, that wouldn’t be a significant factor, but most coaches aren’t Nick Saban.
Alabama at Texas A&M Betting Storylines
These two teams are both very well-coached, so distractions normally wouldn’t be much of a concern. There is a real potential for major distractions on both sides, though. Johnny Manziel is again not meeting with the media, and that has again created controversy — which his teammates are left to deal with. Alabama has to deal with the revelation on Wednesday that D.J. Fluker, now with the San Diego Chargers, may have taken a significant amount of money from agents while he was a student at Alabama. At its worst, that could impact the outcome of every game Fluker played in, including the National Championships. Because it only broke a few days before the game, it is surely going to be an issue as the game nears. Both teams should be able to maintain their focus, but it will be important to watch both squads closely as the game nears to look for signs of cracks. That could potentially be the difference here.
There are countless stats to look at here. The one that really stands out, though, is that since the start of the 2008 season, which was Saban’s second year in charge, the Tide are 51-0 when the team has rushed for at least 140 yards. Sam Houston State rushed for 240 yards against the Aggies, and Rice amassed 306 yards on the ground, so we know that teams can run against Texas A&M. Of course, both those games were over early, so the Aggies weren’t playing their starters later in the game. and stats could be skewed. Despite their ridiculous depth at running back, though, the Tide averaged just 96 yards on 38 carries against Virginia Tech in their opener — a pathetic 2.5 yard per carry average — and the offensive line looked far from their best. If there is one matchup to focus on above all others when handicapping this game, it’s this one.
Alabama at Texas A&M College Football Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Alabama as high as 9.5 point favorites but was quickly adjusted down to 7.5 and has remained stable at that level since. Nearly 60 percent of bets have been on Alabama. Therefore, while significant movement is unlikely, it’s possible we will see a small shift before game time. The total opened at 63 but has seen downward pressure and is available as low as 60.
The Aggies are 4-0 ATS in their last four September games and four conference games. This is the sixth time that the Aggies have hosted the No. 1 team in the country. They are just 1-4 in those games, but the last game — against Oklahoma in 2002 — resulted in a win. The “over” is 3-0-1 in Alabama’s last four games.
College Football Predictions: Alabama at Texas A&M Betting Picks
As good as this game is as a fan, it is my worst nightmare as a bettor — a very well-set line. The Tide have an edge based on depth and experience, but the Aggies are at home and they are dangerous when they have the ball. I am concerned about Alabama’s offensive line and the challenges Alabama had offensively against Virginia Tech because they couldn’t establish the run. However, they have had two weeks to work on it. Manziel is explosive and dangerous, but he’s also a wild card at this point because he has been so volatile, and we can’t be certain how he will respond in the heat of this moment. I really just need to find a big coin to flip. I lean towards the Aggies slightly just because of the extra hook on top of the touchdown, but there will be much better places to look for value this week.
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