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Alabama vs. Texas A&M NCAA Week 6: Tide smallest favorites against unranked opponent in 16 years

Alabama’s football dynasty isn’t necessarily over under Coach Nick Saban – although the Tide clearly have been surpassed as the nation’s pre-eminent program by SEC rival Georgia – but clearly Bama isn’t at the dominant level it used to be with one loss already and another close call. That helps explain why the No. 11 Crimson Tide are only 2.5-point favorites Saturday at Texas A&M. It’s Alabama’s shortest spread vs. unranked team since 2007, Saban’s first year there. The Tide are just 3-8 ATS in their past 11 on the road.

Alabama is 35-1 SU on the road against unranked opponents since start of 2008. Every other team in the FBS (other than those who have recently joined) has at least five such losses in that span. The Tide’s loss came in their last visit to College Station in 2021 as a 17.5-point favorites. That stunner snapped Alabama’s 19-game overall winning streak, 100-game winning streak vs. unranked opponents and a 24-game winning streak by Saban against former assistant to start his career. He’s now 29-3 against them, including 5-1 against A&M’s Jimbo Fisher.

Tide QB Jalen Milroe's first career NCAA start came vs. Texas A&M.

It does appear that Saban made the right move going back to starting QB Jalen Milroe after benching him on Sept. 16 at South Florida. In the two games since, impressive wins over Ole Miss and Mississippi State, Milroe is completing 81.8 percent of his passes. Still Alabama’s 32.2 points per game average is its lowest since 2009 and its passing yardage average of 195.4 ypg is its lowest since 2017. The #RollTide offensive line is allowing sacks at a 15.6% rate, the second-worst in the nation.

(Milroe’s first career start was last year’s 24-20 home win over Texas A&M as Bryce Young was hurt. Milroe threw for three scores and rushed for 81 yards.)

Texas A&M has the best sack rate in the FBS at 14.8% and has 11 players with a sack, tied for second most. The Aggies have 14 sacks the last two weeks, two more than any other team in the FBS. Alabama has been sacked eight times the last two weeks.

The #GigEm lost starting QB Connor Weigman to a season-ending injury against Auburn two weeks ago. Backup Max Johnson has four TDs and one pick since taking over for Weigman at halftime of that Auburn game. Johnson threw for 210 yards with two touchdowns but also had three second-half turnovers while the Aggies missed two field goals in a 34-22 win over Arkansas this past Saturday. A&M had seven sacks and 15 tackles for loss for the second week in a row while limiting Arkansas to 174 total yards.

Texas A&M is just one win from reaching last season’s total of five and already has as many conference wins (two) as it did in 2022. The Aggies are 2-9 vs. Alabama as SEC opponents. A&M won the first meeting as conference opponents in 2012 behind Johnny Manziel on his way to his Heisman Trophy, and then again two years ago.

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