Alabama will be A&M's toughest test so far this year.
Ok, that might go without saying, but let's quickly review the Crimson Tide and some of their strengths.
- Overall record: 5-1.
- Biggest win: 38-10 dismantling of Georgia.
- Only loss: 43-37 to Ole Miss.
- Defense ranks 5th nationally in both overall yards per play allowed and yards per rush allowed.
- Ole Miss was the only team to score more than 17 on Alabama so far this year.
- Alabama ranks 3rd nationally in overall efficiency (A&M is 5th), and 2nd in defensive efficiency according to ESPN's efficiency ratings.
A win by Texas A&M would be the biggest win at Kyle Field this decade.
For all the success and excitement that the Aggies have had since joining the SEC in 2012, there still hasn't been a marquee win at Kyle Field. In 2012, Florida and LSU both beat A&M. In 2013, Alabama got revenge on the Aggies. In 2014... things got ugly.
Believe it or not, the victory against Mississippi State two Saturdays ago was the first victory over a ranked opponent at Kyle Field since A&M defeated #20 Baylor in 2011. It's easy to look ahead and start projecting what it could mean if A&M wins Saturday (and then the next week at Ole Miss). With A&M and LSU currently being tied atop the SEC West standings, beating Alabama would give A&M a very legitimate shot at entering November with an eye on playing LSU for the division championship in the last game of the year.
Truth be told, even if A&M loses, that will still be a possibility. But a win would most likely put A&M in the top 5 and cement them as a bona fide contender.
Beyond that, and perhaps more importantly long term, it would signal that Kyle Field, in all of its renovated glory, is back. Back to being one of the most difficult places to play in America. Back to being the loudest, most intimidating venue. Back to being a place that opponents dread coming to. Aggie fans are desperate for that. They are ready. Will it happen?
Kyle Allen will be the key for Texas A&M.
Why Kyle Allen? Because, no offense to Tra Carson and the A&M offensive line, the Aggies will not win this game by running the ball. Alabama is one of the best run defenses in the country, and while A&M might be able to grind out some yards here and there, but odds are, Alabama will make A&M one dimensional. And that dimension will be passing.
Allen is coming off of two straight turnover-free games and seems to be growing each week. He ranks 12th nationally in QBR and 10th in passer rating. With an extra week to prepare, A&M should have a plan for success dialed in. So can Allen execute that plan and avoid turnovers? If so, A&M will have a great chance to win.
Alabama is, no surprise, ranked in the top 10 nationally in yards per pass allowed, at just 5.1. When the yards are that hard to come by, avoiding turnovers becomes that much more important.