Now it's time for the two biggest games of the day. Two of the three best teams in the Big Ten on one TV, and two of the five best teams in the SEC on the other. (For the record, the rest of that list is Ohio State, LSU, and then maybe Florida and Ole Miss.)
Part 2: Alabama (-4) @ Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS
Anything you're looking into an Alabama game, you have to keep in mind that there is going to be a bias in Bama's favor because of Saban and because they have an ungodly amount of talent on the field and on the bench. A&M is rolling, undefeated, ranked higher than Alabama, and at home. Yet the Tide are favored. That's Alabama football.
So the question of the day/night: are the Tide really that much better than the Aggies? I mean A&M beat Arizona State 38-17 and we'll have to see what happens tomorrow night to know for sure whether ASU is really not a contender in the Pac-12. A&M also beat Arkansas and Mississippi State back in the SEC, and those two really cover the spectrum of run-heavy to pass-heavy in the SEC.
But there seems to be this lingering notion of Alabama being the king of the SEC, and really of the whole college football world. They beat Wisconsin and Arkansas pretty easily at home, and they went on the road and stomped the shit out of Georgia.
But the Tide's lone loss is also the crux of my preview: Bama had Ole Miss at home, and couldn't contain Chad Kelly and the Rebels enough to pull out a win. Kelly went off for 341 yards and 3 touchdowns without an interception, and he only needed 33 attempts (18 completions) to do it. Alabama out-rushed A&M 215 yards to 92, but both teams ran in two scores. The difference, really, was Alabama's quarterbacks combining for 3 interceptions.
As I write this, the over/under is at 54 and looking it might drop to 53. I LOVE the over here. A&M wants to throw the ball, and I just told you how Alabama fared against the other elite passing team in the SEC. Bama wants to run the ball, and A&M probably can't stop them:
- Arizona State ran for 92 yards and 1 touchdown (average 197.0 yards and 1.3 touchdowns in their other games)
- Ball State ran for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns (164.8 and 1.8)
- Nevada ran for 153 yards and 1 touchdown (236.2 and 2.0)
- Arkansas ran for 232 and 2 touchdowns (166.4 and 1.2)
- Mississippi State ran for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns (140.8 and 1.6)
In conclusion, I am 80% certain that Texas A&M will not be able to contain Alabama's rushing attack. I am 60% certain that Alabama will not be able to contain Texas A&M's passing attack. I think both teams will get into the 20s with ease, and I think the total will blow past 54.
As for the point spread, I don't know how you can look at the facts and determine that A&M has any significant advantage except for home field. Even if A&M throws a gem like Chad Kelly did, they won't be able to bank on their defense to match those 3 interceptions, and they definitely won't be able to bank on Derrick Henry being slowed down. I like Alabama -4.