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November 9, 2012

The Call: Texas A&M

Tommy Deas breaks down who holds the advantage when Alabama and Texas A&M clash in Tuscaloosa.

The Call: Alabama vs. TAMU


Advantage

Offense

Advantage: Texas A&M
Texas A&M can give any defense problems. Johnny Manziel is the most productive player in the SEC, ranking first in rushing and third in passing to total 383.2 total yards per game. Mike Evans has more than 800 receiving yards and Ryan Swope has five touchdown catches. Alabama showed it has a clutch offense last weekend at LSU with AJ McCarron at the helm. Running backs T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy man the ground attack and Kevin Norwood has matured into a money receiver.

Defense

Advantage: Alabama
Alabama showed a bit of defensive vulnerability last weekend, with LSU able to pass effectively and find some running room on the edges. The Crimson Tide will need to contain Texas A&M's elusive quarterback, a task that will fall in large part to Xzavier Dickson and Adrian Hubbard, but stopping the running game is always a top priority for UA. The Aggies have one of the best pass rushers in the nation in Damontre Moore, but opponents have passed for 245 yards per game and had some rushing success.

Special Teams

Advantage: Even
The Aggies have a nice kick-and-punt tandem in Taylor Bertolet and Ryan Epperson, with Bertolet good on 11 of 19 field goal attempts with a long kick of 54 yards and Epperson averaging almost 44 yards per punt. Alabama's Cody Mandell has become an exceptional big-game punter and averages 42.5 yards, and Jeremy Shelley is a perfect 9-for-9 on field goal attempts, all of 38 yards or less. UA ranks first in the SEC in kickoff returns and fourth in punt returns but needs to hold onto the ball.

Coaching

Advantage: Alabama
Many were skeptical when Texas A&M hired a Big 12-style coach in Kevin Sumlin to lead the Aggies into the SEC, but that now looks like a pretty good move. Alabama, of course, made the best college football coaching hire of any school in recent memory when it went after Nick Saban going into the 2007 season. Alabama is in the hunt for its third national championship in the last four years, and Saban's assistants play a big part. Jeff Stoutland has molded UA's line into one of the best in the land.

Intangibles

Advantage: Texas A&M
This is a good time to play Alabama, if there is such a thing. The Crimson Tide is coming off a hard-fought, emotional road victory at LSU and is playing a nationally ranked opponent for the third week in a row. Texas A&M's offense is difficult to prepare for in one week, and UA players are likely still sore from the trip to Baton Rouge, La. Alabama has everything on the line and the Aggies have nothing to lose. Alabama may need to reach deep to bring its best.


Prediction

Alabama 27, Texas A&M 17
Don't sell this Texas A&M team short. The Aggies can score points and will have some success, and their defense has steadily improved. This looks like a classic UA game where the Crimson Tide has to grind down the opponent and pull away in the fourth quarter.






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