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Texas A&M vs. Alabama Prediction: Crimson Tide Aim to Get Revenge Against the Aggies

Nick Saban and Co. have not forgotten what happened last season.

Thanks to last year's game in College Station, the SEC West race in 2022, and some off-the-field barbs, Texas A&M's trip to Alabama for Week 6 of the college football season was circled as a must-see matchup this preseason. But five weeks into the year, although the stakes are always high in an SEC showdown, the matchup has lost some of its appeal.

The Aggies are unranked with a 3-2 record, and the Crimson Tide are favored by more than three touchdowns. Although this game has lost some of its luster, this contest won't lack storylines. Alabama is still out for revenge after last year's loss in College Station. And of course, we can't forget the back-and-forth between coaches Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban this offseason. Both Fisher and Saban have downplayed any lingering animosity in the build-up to this matchup. But make no mistake: Both coaches really want this game.

Alabama improved to 5-0 this year after a 49-26 victory against Arkansas last week. But the win was costly, as quarterback Bryce Young suffered an injury to the AC joint in his throwing shoulder. Young's status is uncertain for Saturday night's matchup, but backup Jalen Milroe has played well in limited time and would handle the controls if the reigning Heisman winner is on the sidelines. The Crimson Tide have scored at least 49 points or more in four out of their first five games this year and won those matchups by at least 23 or more. The only close call on Alabama's '22 slate: A one-point win at Texas in Week 2.

Related: Predictions for Every College Football Game in Week 6

High expectations surrounded Texas A&M entering the 2022 season. After landing the No. 1 recruiting class, along with an expected rebound from an 8-4 season in '21, the Aggies were projected as a potential top-10 team. However, hopes of pushing Alabama in the SEC West or a potential trip to the CFB Playoff quickly crumbled after a 17-14 loss to Appalachian State in Week 2. The Aggies rebounded a week later to beat Miami and knocked off Arkansas (23-21) in a wild one, but Fisher's team was thoroughly dominated by Mississippi State in Starkville (42-24) last Saturday. Barring a major turnaround in play, Texas A&M seems poised to barely reach bowl eligibility. And if that's the case, a six or seven-win season would add plenty of fuel to the conversation surrounding the direction of this program.

Since joining the SEC, Texas A&M is just 2-8 against Alabama. The Crimson Tide are 3-1 over the Aggies with Fisher at the helm. In those three victories, Alabama won each game by 19 or more points.

Texas A&M at Alabama

Date: Saturday, Oct. 8 at 8 p.m. ET
TV: CBS
Live Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Spread: Alabama -24
Tickets: As low as $69 on SITickets.com*

When Texas A&M Has the Ball

This side of the ball is the biggest reason for Texas A&M's inability to meet preseason expectations, and barring a major surprise, this unit is unlikely to find any answers, especially on Saturday night. The Aggies are averaging only 5.95 yards a play and 21.8 points a game in '22. In their last six games against Power 5 opponents, Fisher's group has not scored more than 25 points.

Pinpointing the exact reason for the offensive struggles is tough since it isn't limited to just one factor. Fisher's scheme needs a refresh, the quarterback play has been inconsistent since Kellen Mond departed to the NFL, the offensive line is struggling, and No. 1 receiver Ainias Smith is out for the year due to injury. Texas A&M has just seven plays of 30-plus yards this season, so every drive has to be perfect for the Aggies to get points on the board.

Adding to the offensive woes is a hand injury to quarterback Max Johnson. The LSU transfer took over the starting job after Haynes King struggled in the first two games, but he's expected to miss significant time due to the injury he suffered in last week's loss to Mississippi State. King is expected to start again on Saturday, but he will have to play a lot better than he has so far (510 yards, 4 INTs) for Texas A&M to win on Saturday. Five-star freshman Conner Weigman is the future of the offense for Fisher and could be pressed into duty if King struggles.

Although Smith is missed on the outside, the receiving corps doesn't lack options. True freshman Evan Stewart (18 catches) is a rising star, and he's supported by Moose Muhammad III, Yulkeith Brown, and Chris Marshall as the other key weapons on the outside.

Despite inconsistent play out of the trenches, running back Devon Achane is averaging 5.8 yards per rush for a total of 466 yards over 81 attempts. Alabama's rush defense ranks first in the SEC (87.4 yards a game) and is holding teams to just 2.3 yards per carry. Finding running room for Achane could be tough, but the Aggies have to get the talented sophomore the ball in space. If Achane can find running lanes, it will help keep King out of obvious passing downs. King's mobility could also be a factor here, as Fisher should deploy his mobility to give the Crimson Tide another dimension to handle.

Alabama's defense only adds to the challenge for Texas A&M's offense to get on track. The Crimson Tide are only giving up 11 points a game and 3.6 yards per play this season. Also, led by linebacker Will Anderson Jr., this unit has generated 15 sacks and has yet to allow a play of more than 50 yards this fall.

When Alabama Has the Ball

Mystery surrounds Alabama's offense for Saturday night's game. A unit that averages 48.4 points a game and 7.86 yards per play may not have Young after his injury against Arkansas. The junior has passed for 1,202 yards and 14 touchdowns over five appearances and is expected to be a game-time decision. Although Young is the best quarterback in college football, the staff has to weigh getting him back in the lineup and potentially risking another injury or letting him sit in a winnable matchup to get ready for next week's showdown against Tennessee.

If Young can't go, Milroe will get the nod under center. The four-star prospect in the 2021 signing class played in four games last fall and has already matched that total. Milroe has completed 16 of 27 throws for 151 yards and two touchdowns and showcased his mobility with 163 yards and a score on the ground. The Texas native isn't as polished of a passer as Young, but if he's the starter on Saturday, more designed runs and plays to utilize his legs are likely.

Whichever quarterback starts will have an impact on Alabama's game plan and also how Texas A&M defends this attack. If Milroe is the starter, a heavier dose of running backs Jahmyr Gibbs (8.8 yards per carry) and Jase McClellan (256 yards) seems likely. And the Crimson Tide should be able to have success here, as Texas A&M's front is giving up 170.2 rushing yards a game and 4.4 yards per carry.

Alabama's receiving corps is a work in progress, but this group seems to be coming together after a slow start. Traeshon Holden (17 catches), Kobe Prentice (15), Ja'Corey Brooks (10), Jermaine Burton (13), and Isaiah Bond (six) are primed to be the top targets for Young or Milroe. Gibbs (19) is another weapon in the passing game.

Texas A&M coordinator DJ Durkin has a tough assignment this week as he has to prepare for two different quarterbacks and schemes. The Aggies are only giving up 17.8 points a game, but that number jumps to 31.5 in the two conference matchups. Also, this unit is giving up 6.3 yards per play in SEC contests and has generated only six sacks all season.

Final Analysis

Texas A&M was a heavy underdog and found a way to win last season. A similar setup is in place once again this year. Can the Aggies make it two in a row? While some of the details are similar, this year's game is a meeting of teams headed in opposite directions. Texas A&M just has too many question marks on offense to move the ball consistently against Alabama. And without Max Johnson, the Aggies face longer odds to get the passing game on track. Whether or not Young plays shouldn't matter on Saturday night. Milroe can direct the offense and do enough on the ground to keep drives alive. Also, the playmakers around Milroe — Gibbs, Brooks, Holden and others — can step up and make life easier for the quarterback. Alabama's defense is the best unit on the field and a dominant effort on Saturday is expected — especially with revenge on the mind for Saban's team after last year's loss in College Station.

Prediction: Alabama 34, Texas A&M 10

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*Price as of publication.