Even though the Crimson Tide went on to win its second consecutive national championship, one team had the right to say it beat the Tide.
The hype surrounding the “rematch of the century” is in another stratosphere as Alabama travels to College Station to face No. 6 Texas A&M (2-0) on Saturday. The winner has the inside track to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game and will be the early national championship favorite.
For the Tide, the question is will it have an answer for reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the Aggies’ offense?
“Texas A&M has an outstanding team, one of the best offensive teams probably in college football, maybe in this history of college football in terms of their quarterback’s ability to make plays and the great job of executing that they do,” Tide coach Nick Saban said. “They’re a very well coached team. It’s a challenging environment for our players to be able to go over and have the kind of discipline to execute and focus on the kind of fundamental things that are going to affect the outcome of the game.”
Aggies’s coach Kevin Sumlin and his team want to prove last season’s 29-24 victory in Tuscaloosa wasn’t a fluke. They’ll have much needed help on defense as cornerback De’Vante Harris, linebacker Steven Jenkins and defensive end Gavin Stansbury return this week after missing the first two games serving suspensions for violating team rules. This time around, the Aggies will have Kyle Field’s 12th Man cheering them on.
“I’ve said before it’s one of the best places to play in the country if you’re the home team and one of the hardest places to play in the country if you’re the visiting team,” Sumlin said. “For a lot of people who have never been here, they’ll be surprised by the atmosphere and what the 12th Man brings to the table. We consider ourselves the original 12th man, and there’s a reason why. I think people will find that out Saturday.”
But since 2009, Alabama has lost just one road game (at LSU, 2010). And after a lackluster performance in a 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech in week one, the Tide has something to prove. Particularly its offensive line.
“They’re playing with a chip on their shoulder,” quarterback AJ McCarron said. “Everybody hears everybody talking. We don’t need to pay attention to it, but you’re still going to hear it. I feel like they came out this past week and really improved, did a great job communicating. … They’ve done a really job of progressing, so hopefully we can keep building.”
Sports Writer Marq Burnett: On Twitter @Marq_Burnett.