The Texas A&M Aggies come into the seventh game of the season with a flawless 6-0 record. The Alabama Crimson Tide also enter this week with an unblemished 7-0 record and the weekend's mega showdown in Tuscaloosa will leave one team in the drivers seat for the SEC West crown.
Each week we go inside the opponent's program to Get To Know the opponent a little better. This week we pose our five questions to BamaMag.com publisher Kirk McNair to get his perspective.
Aggie Digest: What is one position group on each side of the ball that you feel will be tested by the Aggies Saturday?
Kirk McNair: Football has certainly changed in recent years, but I think the team that can run the ball and the team that can stop the opponent’s rushing game still has the best chance to win. At least to begin with, I think both teams will feel out the running game. Most Alabama opponents, though, have had more success passing, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the Aggies come out throwing.
AD: The gambling line on the game has drawn a lot of conversation early on this week as Alabama opens at an impressive 17.5 point favorite and has now moved to a 19.5 point favorite in some places. Do you feel that big of a number is justified in this case?
McNair: I do not, though I’ll be the first to admit that I am often surprised at the lines that come out and also surprised at the result. For a most recent example, I thought it was ridiculous that Alabama was a 13-point favorite over Tennessee last week – playing a ranked team on the road. In that case, I think Bama owes a big ‘Thank you’ to Texas A&M for having bruised and battered the Vols the week before. This week Alabama is playing a team that had a bye week and reportedly is very healthy for this game.
AD: Turnovers were a key in Alabama’s win over Texas A&M last year and both of these teams do well with the turnover differential. Which team do you think is better built to be able to overcome losing the turnover battle in this game?
McNair: It is very, very difficult to overcome losing the turnover battle. Alabama has made it particularly difficult this year because the defense has been able to convert so many turnovers into instant points, 4 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries returned for touchdowns. Should Alabama get one of those scoring turnovers – particularly considering last year when Bama returned three interceptions for TDs – it might be psychologically more difficult for the Aggies to overcome.
AD: What is one match-up on each side of the ball you feel will be worth the price of admission? (Could be an OL vs a DL or a WR vs a CB, etc.)
McNair: Four of the best players on the field are Texas A&M defensive ends Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett and Alabama offensive tackles Cam Robinson and Jonah Williams. Those game-within-the-game battles in the trenches may decide the outcome.
AD: What one statistical category do you feel will best represent the outcome of Saturday’s game? (turnovers, rushing yards, rushing yards allowed, etc.)
McNair: Although the rushing game may not produce the actual winning points, I am a firm believer that if one team can be effective in the running game and the other cannot, that the rushing game will decide the outcome.