Posted on September 17, 2018, by Travis Pulver
When the 2018 CFB season began, there were questions surrounding both Alabama and Texas A&M. What could Jimbo Fisher do in his first season as head coach in College Station? Who was going to be the starting quarterback for the Crimson Tide?
It’s too early to make any judgment calls on Fisher’s first season. But the early returns are certainly promising. As for the Alabama QB situation, Nick Saban may not want to make it official, but Tua Tagovailoa is clearly the man of the future in Tuscaloosa.
Saturday afternoon’s game will not necessarily answer any questions about either team. But with what fans have seen from each so far, it could be an early favorite for Game of the Year.
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Based off the entire body of work, it is hard to know just how much fans should get excited about the Aggies. Yes, they are 2-1. Yes, they are ranked inside the top 25 of both polls. The offense is currently ranked fifth in the nation with almost 600 yards a game.
Statistically speaking, the defense is doing its job (22nd in points allowed per game (15.0)). However, much like in year’s past, they give up yards in the passing game (251.0 yards/game allowed; 92nd in the nation).
What should worry fans most about those stats is not how high they are, but that in two of three games the competition was weak (Clemson lit them up for 298 yards and two touchdowns).
If Texas A&M is going to score the upset, they are going to have to figure out some way to contain Alabama’s passing game while not letting their run game get out of control. Can they count on their offense to provide some help?
Since Kellen Mond was able to take on the Clemson defense, will he be able to take on the Alabama D?
Tua Tagovailoa may not have officially won Alabama’s QB competition—but he’s won Alabama’s QB competition. Thanks to the added dimension a successful downfield passing game gives the offense, the Crimson Tide offense has been scoring at an incredible rate (56.7 points/game; first in the nation).
They have one of the most productive passing attacks in the country (25th; 308.0 yards/game) and one of the most efficient (third; 206.28). But they can still run the ball as well (27th; 236.7 yards/game).
Offensively, while they may get the job done a little differently, they are still getting it done. Defensively, they are not as bullish as they have been on yards in years past (302.3 yards/game allowed; t-24th). But they have been just as hard when it comes to scoring (8th; 9.3 points/game allowed).
However, it’s not like Louisville and Arkansas State are considered tough, competitive teams this year. Ole Miss is, but the other two—not so much. Could it be, that Alabama looks as good as they do because they haven’t played anyone challenging yet? Are they that good or are they a product of their competition?
So—who’s going to win?
If we hadn’t seen this sort of scenario play out with Alabama in the past, it would be easy to think they might not be as good as advertised. But they always end up being as good if not better. But the question in this game is not going to be Alabama’s offense but whether Kellen Mond can move the ball against Alabama’s D.
If he can, we’ll have a competitive game on our hands. If he doesn’t take a nap and watch whichever game is playing on Pac-12 After Dark.
The Prediction: As nice as it would be to think the Aggies could pull off the upset, it’s too hard to go against Alabama with how they’ve been playing. Alabama will win, but there is no way they cover the 25.5-point spread.
Texas A&M will put up enough of a fight to make sure that doesn’t happen.