No. 15 Texas A&M (7-2, 4-2) at No. 1 Alabama (9-0, 6-0)
When: 2:30 p.m., today
Where: Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama
Line: Alabama by 13.5
1. Common coaches: Four men have served as head football coaches at both Alabama and Texas A&M, including Paul “Bear” Bryant (1953-57 at A&M, 1958-82 at Alabama), Gene Stallings (1965-71 at A&M, 1990-96 at Alabama), Dennis Franchione (2001-02 at Alabama, 2003-07 at Texas A&M) and D.V. “Tubby” Graves (1911-14 at Alabama, 1918 at Texas A&M). Graves actually was better known in athletics as a baseball coach. After leaving Texas A&M and coaching for a short stint at Montana State, he was an assistant football coach, assistant basketball coach and head baseball coach at Washington in 1922-46. Washington later played at a baseball field named for him.
2. Running the ball: Texas A&M leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks 10th nationally with about 251 rushing yards a game. Alabama, however, is second in the nation against the run, allowing only 66 yards a game. The Aggies have struggled against two other top run defenses they’ve faced this year, compiling 134 against both Florida and LSU. Florida is 10th in the country against the run, while LSU is 12th.
3. No rest for the weary: Today marks Texas A&M’s 10th game in 10 weeks and fifth road game in six weeks. It wasn’t scheduled this way. The season opener at Louisiana Tech was postponed because of Hurricane Isaac and was moved to Oct. 13, which was between a game at Ole Miss and a game at LSU. There’s no break after today, although the opponents aren’t as tough. A&M must play Sam Houston State at home next week and Missouri at home the week after that.
4. Fast starts: Texas A&M has gotten off to fast starts recently. In the Aggies’ last four games (Louisiana Tech, LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State), they’ve outscored their opponents 65-0 in the first quarter. Alabama hasn’t exactly hesitated out of the gate, either. The Tide has outscored its opponents 104-6 in the first quarter of its nine games this year.
Alabama cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Deion Belue vs. Texas A&M receivers Mike Evans and Ryan Swope: Both Milliner and Belue struggled at times against LSU. Milliner is third nationally with 15 passes defended but didn’t have one against the Bengal Tigers. Belue gave up a touchdown. They’ll face a tough duo in Evans, a 6-foot-5 freshman, and Swope, a 6-0 senior. Both have three 100-yard receiving games this year. Evans has 56 catches and Swope 45. Auburn limited them to 11 combined catches but they gained 220 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.
Player of the week
Adrian Hubbard, LB, So., 6-6, 248: Although he usually makes his bigges contribution as a pass rusher, Hubbard had a career-high 12 tackles in Saturday’s 21-17 win over LSU, including 2.5 for losses. He added a 7-yard sack in the second quarter, forcing the Bengal Tigers to punt. He was in on the tackle when Alabama stopped a fourth-and-one play in the fourth quarter.
By the Numbers
4: How many times Alabama and Texas A&M have met. Alabama won regular-season games in 1985 and ’88 and the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1942. The Aggies won the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 1968.
22: How many teams the Crimson Tide has beaten since the start of the 2008 season that were ranked in The Associated Press Top 25.
166: The number of yards T.J. Yeldon needs to tie Terry Grant‘s 2007 school freshman rushing yards set in 2007. Grant had 891, and Yeldon has 725.
6: The number of times Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has won Southeastern Conference freshman of the week honors.
Although Nick Saban complains about fast-paced, up-tempo offenses that feature the passing game, his Crimson Tide actually defends that type of team fairly well. Alabama had trouble with LSU’s power attack. Manziel will run for some yards and complete some passes, but he probably will turn over the ball a couple of times, and in the end, will he really put that many points on the board? Alabama 30, Texas A&M 16.