Alabama survived its biggest challenge of this season so far last week to stay atop the BCS standings, and they lay two touchdowns this week against a new SEC foe. The Crimson Tide host the offensive-minded Texas A&M Saturday afternoon in Tuscaloosa (3:30 pm ET, CBS), and many sportsbooks are respectful of the Aggies offense, spotting Alabama just 14 points on most betting menus.
"There is no real head-to-head data to use as handicapping fodder since A&M just joined the SEC, but Bama had better respect the fact the Aggies have won seven of their past eight, or else the Top 25 could get a shake-up come Sunday," said Jeff Grant of SportsbookReview.com.
The defending national champions are 9-0 this season after escaping from Death Valley last Saturday night with a 21-17 victory over LSU. Bama led that game, 14-3, in the third quarter, and was driving for more, but fumbled in the red zone. The Tigers promptly scored two touchdowns to take a 17-14 lead.
But in crunch time, Tide QB AJ McCarron directed a five-play, 72-yard drive culminating in the game-winning score, a 28-yard catch-and-run hook-up with RB T.J. Yeldon with just under a minute to go.
So Alabama remains the top team in the BCS standings, and sits a victory over A&M away from a berth in the SEC championship game.
The Aggies have lost two games this season; by three points to Florida and by five points to LSU. With freshman QB Johnny Manziel throwing for 2,500 yards, running for 900 more and accounting for 31 touchdowns, A&M is averaging 45 PPG.
At 4-2 in SEC play Texas A&M sits in second place in the West Division, two games back of the Tide, with two conference games to play. The Aggies will be playing their third road game in a row Saturday.
According to Sagarin's PREDICTOR ratings at USATodaySports, Bama should be favored by 12 points for this game. If correct, 14 points is good Texas A&M betting value.
These two programs last met back in 1988, when Alabama beat the Aggies in College Station, 30-10, in something called the "Hurricane Bowl."
Free Pick: Alabama's defense allowed Louisiana State QB Zach Mettenberger to look pretty good last Saturday, but our guess is they'll rise to the challenge against Manziel. We'll give the points and take the Tide for Saturday. (Courtesy of PickShark.com.)
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