(6) Texas A&M @

(1) Alabama

Sat, Oct 22
12:30 PM Pacific
Rotation: 405
Odds: Alabama -18, Total: 60

Game Analysis

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ALABAMA (-18)  45   Texas A&M  24

Alabama is a huge favorite here and my math model agrees that the line should be close to 3 touchdowns, but facing a team with a quarterback that has the rushing skills of Trevor Knight is historically troubling for the Tide. Knight has 529 yards on just 61 runs this season, not including sacks, and he has the ability to not only avoid Alabama’s pass rush but he also adds an element of the unknown that Nick Saban and his defensive staff can’t prepare for.

Alabama has had some history of trouble with running quarterbacks and the read-option. Last year’s loss was to Ole’ Miss and while that defeat was a bit of a fluke (-5 in turnovers and lost by just 6 points) the Rebels were able to average 5.9 yards per play, the most of any team against Alabama all season until Clemson and their running quarterback Deshaun Watson gained 552 yards at 6.5 yppl against the Tide in the National Championship game. Mississippi was smart enough to run more read-option plays than they normally do, which kept one of the safeties closer to the line of scrimmage and allowed quarterback Chad Kelly to connect on some throws down the field. Kelly is not an elite runner, but he’s a good enough runner (646 rushing yards last season and 286 this season so far) to force the Tide defense to respect the possibility that he might run. Kelly ran the ball 11 times against Alabama earlier this season and the threat of that run allowed him to connect on some big pass plays again, as Ole’ Miss had 525 total yards at 7.2 yppl in a 43-48 loss.

The 35-42 playoff loss to Ohio State in the 2014 season featured a lot of read-option that Alabama could not stop (302 rushing yards for the Buckeyes at 7.7 yards per rushing play). In 2013 it was Auburn’s read-option attack with QB Nick Marshall that derailed Alabama’s season, as the Tigers ran for 321 yards at 6.6 yprp in their upset of the Tide. The only loss in Alabama’s 2012 season was to Texas A&M, which featured running quarterback Johnny Manziel, who ran for 107 yards at 7.6 yprp and was able to find open receivers down the field against a defense that had an extra defender close to the line of scrimmage to help defend the read-option. In 2010 it was Auburn’s read-option attack with Cam Newton at the controls that upset Alabama on their way to a national championship. I could go back further but you get the picture. Bama did dominate Tennessee and running quarterback Joshua Dobbs last week, but Dobbs only ran the ball 4 times. You can be sure that Trevor Knight is going to run the ball a lot and Texas A&M has a history of success against Alabama’s defense when they have a running quarterback.

Alabama’s defense will dominate a pro-style attack like USC, but teams that run the read-option and have a quarterback that can scramble away from pressure are the types of attacks that Alabama can struggle against. The Tide also don’t seem to be comfortable against high scoring teams, which has shown up in an interesting team trend that a fellow handicapper shared with me. In the Nick Saban era (since 2008), Alabama is 66-47-1 ATS but the Tide are just 12-26-1 ATS when the over/under total is greater than 52 points (1-2-1 ATS this season).

Despite all of that, I would still rather side with Alabama in this game, as my math model has their offense racking up 599 total yards at 7.4 yards per play and Knight isn’t likely to have much success throwing the ball (just 4.9 yards per pass play projected). If Alabama continues their trend of struggling against running quarterbacks then the over should work.

  • Team Stats
  • Game Log
  • Texas A&M
  • Alabama


  • Run Plays 39.0 40.2
  • Run Yards 276.2 184.0
  • YPRP 7.2 5.2


  • Pass Comp 18.8 25.2
  • Pass Att 35.6 41.0
  • Comp % 52.8% 61.5%
  • Pass Yards 231.6 291.6
  • Sacks 0.8 3.4
  • Sack Yards 5.4 26.4
  • Sack % 2.2% 7.7%
  • Pass Plays 36.4 44.4
  • Net Pass Yards 226.2 265.2
  • YPPP 6.2 6.0


  • Total Plays 75.4 84.6
  • Total Yards 507.8 475.6
  • YPPL 6.7 5.6


  • Int 0.8 1.2
  • Int % 2.2% 2.9%
  • Fumbles 1.0 2.0
  • Turnovers 1.8 3.2
  • Points 40.2 19.2
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