It's rare that a team goes into Tuscaloosa and takes down Nick Saban and Alabama. But that's exactly what Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M did a year ago, launching Manziel's Heisman campaign in the process.
Saban will have a chance to exact his revenge on Saturday when the two teams meet at Kyle Field for the premiere matchup in college football. Two top-10 teams, a two-time defending national champion and last year's Heisman Trophy winner. This game has just about everything for college football fans.
NFL Draft fans have plenty to look out for as well. At least a dozen potential pro players will be playing in Saturday's game. Here are a few players and matchups to look out for when the two teams clash in College Station.
Alabama at Texas A&M, 3:30 ET, CBS
When Alabama has the football
A.J. McCarron entered the season with a considerable amount of hype, but most of it seems to have been unwarranted. McCarron has limited arm strength and has been feeling more pressure in the pocket than he is used to. That has to do with left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio struggling in the first game of the season against Virginia Tech. He looked off-balance too often and has been beat as a result. Guard Anthony Steen also has pro aspirations but isn't as highly regarded as Kouandjio. Will they have any luck keeping Aggies linebacker Steven Jenkins out of the backfield?
Alabama's two best NFL Draft prospects on offense aren't eligible for the 2014 NFL Draft. Sophomore running back T.J. Yeldon and sophomore wide receiver Amari Cooper are both talented players that will be highly regarded in the 2015 NFL Draft. The Crimson Tide is likely to lean heavily on both of them to spark the offense on Saturday.
When Texas A&M has the football
This is where all of the intrigue lies in Saturday's matchup. What game plan has Saban cooked up to stop Johnny Football. Manziel doesn't make a living on NFL-style throws, showing only a handful in each game he plays. Instead, he makes teams pay in the quick passing game and with his legs. He has the uncanny ability to break contain and pick up big chunks of yardage when escaping the pocket. Saban's answer? Spy Manziel with All-American linebacker C.J. Mosley. The athletic, hard-hitting linebacker is as well-suited as any player in the country to spy Manziel, and this will be a perfect test for both of them.
Texas A&M's ability to keep Alabama out of the backfield may be the key to the game. Aggies left tackle Jake Matthews is the best offensive lineman in the country, but the Crimson Tide have more than one pass rusher, so junior right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will have the biggest test of his career. Alabama Outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard has great length and athleticism. Texas A&M will have to be aware of where he is on every play. Defensive end Ed Stinson will also present a threat on the edge. Needless to say, Texas A&M running back Ben Malena won't have a lot of room to run on Saturday.
In the secondary, Alabama safety Ha'sean Clinton-Dix is the player to watch. He has tons of range and is learning how to hone in his aggressiveness this season. Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans, the ideal target for Manziel, will have a difficult time finding room over the top with Clinton-Dix patrolling centerfield. Saban has entrusted Clinton-Dix in the "robber" role in his defense often this year, which gives him the responsibility to cover the deep part of the field and make the most complex reads of any player in the secondary. So far, he's thrived.
Question of the night
Will Mosley be up to the task of spying Manziel?
The most exciting quarterback in college football against the most prolific linebacker in the nation. That will be the matchup to watch and the one that will ultimately decide the course of this game. Mosley would have been a top 15 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, but he decided to come back to Alabama for some unfinished business. Maybe this was the unfinished business.