Alabama - Texas A&M Preview

ALABAMA TO BE CHALLENGED AGAIN! TIDE VISIT TEXAS A&M SATURDAY AFTERNOON ON CBS

Seems like a big game every week! Fresh on the heels of routing Georgia as an underdog for the first time in years...then pulling away in the second half against feisty Arkansas...the #10 Alabama Crimson Tide continue their efforts to climb back into the national championship picture Saturday afternoon at #9 Texas A&M.

Even though the Aggies are ranked higher by pollsters, the betting markets see Alabama as the superior team. A lot of that going around this week! Michigan is a clear favorite over Michigan State in a similar scenario in the Big 10. Will pollsters ever catch up with what sharp betters know?!

The Aggies are certainly capable of inflicting a second loss of the season on Alabama (Tide lost to Ole Miss a month ago). This is a huge game in the SEC West race...and in the national picture because so much has to be worked out in important head-to-head meetings. Let's see what JIM HURLEY'S key indicator stats have to say about the matchup...

Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Alabama: 5-1 (#9 schedule according to Sagarin)
Texas A&M: 5-0 (#41 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

Alabama's played a very tough schedule (which only gets tougher this week!). A 5-1 record is nothing to be ashamed of within a gauntlet. Nick Saban's bunch really has to prove itself every year in a way that just isn't true for powers in other conferences. Texas A&M looks fairly "for real" considering an undefeated mark against a top 50 schedule.

2014 Yards-Per-Play
Alabama: 5.7 on offense, 4.0 on defense
Texas A&M: 6.5 on offense, 5.3 on defense

Very impressive that Alabama has the better YPP differential (+1.7 to +1.2) while facing the tougher schedule. This is solid evidence that they really are the better team...and that the market is right to think so. Also, if you're the type of handicapper who believes that defense matters most in games like this (Georgia was recently convinced of that!), then it's an added boost for the Tide. Better team, better defense, pop a cork!

2014 Turnover Differential
Alabama: even
Texas A&M: +2

This is where things could get dicey long term for both teams. Neither is getting the best of the risk/reward scenario in a way that usually represents championship caliber football. Lane Kiffin's offense at Alabama takes risks downfield that often backfire. And, the defense doesn't get takeaways like it used to (though there are playmakers who make their presence known every so often). The Aggies are also too mistake-prone in their high energy offense. Maybe that cancels out today. This category will likely matter in the second half of the season with SEC and national ramifications. It's very hard to go the distance if this category is a coin flip.

2014 Market Performance
Alabama: 2-4 ATS
Texas A&M: 4-1 ATS

Alabama is always priced like a national champion...even when they're not destined to win the title. That makes it very hard to cover numbers consistently. They did rout Georgia two Saturdays ago...but fell short last week when Arkansas scored a garbage time TD. Texas A&M caught oddsmakers napping out of the gate in 2015. Upgrading their defense has returned this team to the national spotlight.

Quarterback
Alabama: Jake Coker (103-172-6-1238 with 11 TDs)
Texas A&M: Kyle Allen (89-139-2-1274 with 13 TDs)

You can see what we mean about Alabama's downfield passing. Coker has six interceptions already. The Aggies have avoided high impact picks, but are prone to other miscues. If you just look at TD/INT ratios...it's 13/2 for A&M, a more generic 11/6 for 'Bama. Important factor here will be Allen's need to avoid taking big hits from Alabama's physical and fast defenders.

Current Line: Alabama by 4, total of 53.5

Home field is usually worth three points in college football...though some might argue it's worth slightly more than that in College Station. Basically, Alabama would be favored by about a touchdown on a neutral field over the Aggies...and by around 10 points at home. It doesn't matter what the polls are telling you! The market sees Alabama as a tournament caliber team (Final Four), while the Aggies are winners who aren't quite in that class.

JIM HURLEY had this game circled before the season started because of how it fell on the schedule. He definitely recognizes A&M's upset potential...but Alabama proved its big game bonafides in Athens, Georgia. NETWORK will only make a play here if it's warranted. There are great possibilities all over the card...and clients only get the best!

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We return to the NFL for the next few reports here in the NOTEBOOK...

Sunday: NFL TV Preview... New England at Indianapolis
Monday: NFL TV Preview... NY Giants at Philadelphia
Midweek: NFL TV Preview... Seattle at San Francisco
Friday-Saturday: College Football TV Preview...to be determined, considering Texas A&M at Ole Miss, Clemson at Miami, and Utah at USC.

Last year's Super Bowl teams are on the immediate agenda...as the drama continues to unfold at both the college and pro levels. When it comes to sports handicapping, the star of the show has always been JIM HURLEY! Sign up today so you can GET THE MONEY!

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