The most anticipated game of the day (3:30pm ET) in the SEC for week 8 of the 0214 season features the 21st ranked Texas A&M Aggies (5-2) traveling to Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL to take on the 7th ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (5-1). Texas A&M comes into the game reeling after suffering back-to-back losses to then-3rd ranked Ole Miss (35-20) at home last week and at then-12th ranked Mississippi St. the previous week (48-31). Coach Kevin Sumlin’s Aggies were thoroughly outplayed in both games after starting the season with a bang with a 52-28 win at South Carolina that looks less impressive with each passing week. Alabama hung on for a 14-13 win over Arkansas last week on the road after suffering their first loss of the season the previous week (23-17) on the road against an Ole Miss team that pounded the Aggies last week.
The Aggies rank 6th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 43.9 points per game scored and 4th in total offense with 564.9 yards per game. The Aggies started off the season on fire offensively, with QB Kenny Hill throwing for over 500 yards against South Carolina. The last two weeks have seen them average 25.5 PPG after averaging 51.2 per game over the first 5 games (all wins). Defensively A&M ranks 47th nationally in points allowed with 22.6 per game and 71st in total defense with 397 YPG allowed.
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Alabama ranks 47th among FBS teams in scoring offense with 33.2 PPG and 18th in total offense with 500 YPG. The Tide won their first three games by a combined 168-56 before their loss at Ole Miss, but their offense has sputtered since that game and only put up 227 yards last week and has averaged 311.5 YPG over the last two weeks. It is the first time they have scored 17 or fewer points back-to-back since Nick Saban’s first season at the helm in 2007. The Tide played sloppy, losing 4 fumbles on special teams. Defensively Alabama ranks 6th nationally in points allowed with 15.3 per game and 3rd in total defense with 277.2 YPG allowed.
Texas A&M vs. Alabama Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Texas A&M Aggies +13.5
@Alabama Crimson Tide -13.5
Over 63.5 (-110)
Under 63.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from BetOnline.ag
Texas A&M vs. Alabama Pick:
Alabama wide out Amari Cooper was held to only 2 receptions for 22 yards last week after entering the game averaging 149.2 YPG receiving (2nd in FBS). Hill threw for 17 TDs with only 2 INTs through the first 5 games, but has been picked off 5 times in the past two weeks. He had a fumble and an INT returned for a score last week against Ole Miss. Both offenses are obviously playing their worst football of the year coming into this game, but Alabama’s defense has been strong all season and the key to this game is their ability to stop Hill and the Aggies spread. Alabama has played one other top-10 offense this season, and they held West Virginia to 393 total yards, 159.2 below their average, in their season-opening 33-23 win.
The Texas A&M defense, well not elite, is improved this season. Alabama has had major problems offensively this season, but their defense is still an elite unit and has the good fortune of facing a sputtering Aggie offense that is not playing their best football. The point spread is too high to recommend taking the Crimson Tide, even at home. The call here is to play the total, and with both offenses struggling and Alabama playing their usual tough defense the play to make is to take the UNDER here.