Game of the Week: No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M

posted September 13, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Aaron Carr

Each week ComRadio staff writer Aaron Carr will highlight a matchup in college football that he considers to be the “Game of the Week.” If you’re going to enjoy some college football action then this is the ONE contest that you do not want to miss. Carr’s “Game of the Week” selection for Week 3 of the college football season comes to you live from College Station, Texas, where #1 Alabama seeks revenge against SEC West rival #6 Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

The Game: #1 Alabama vs. #6 Texas A&M

A lot of times when I write an article I like to play devil’s advocate by using the word “arguably.” As in, this player is ‘arguably’ the best in the sport, or that play was ‘arguably’ the best of the season. When you apply the word “arguably” into any thought you’re trying to get across, it leaves that thought open for debate...open for doubt.

Ladies and gentlemen, if someone were to tell you that Alabama vs. Texas A&M was arguably the most anticipated game of the 2013 season, they would be completely and 100 percent wrong. There is no arguably when it comes to the importance, the anticipation and the intrigue of this contest. This IS the game of games for the 2013 season, as far as the regular season is concerned.

Whenever the number one ranked team in college football is playing that week, usually the ranking alone, regardless of their opponent, is enough to make you watch them. This week’s matchup goes way beyond no. 1 vs. no. 6. There are storylines aplenty, beginning with the simple fact of this is the defending BCS national champions taking on the guy that won last year’s Heisman trophy, as a freshman!

But when you add the revenge factor for Alabama and the recent antics of A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, this game’s intrigue gets taken to a level that hasn’t been seen in years. This game honestly feels like it’s no. 1 vs. no. 2.

They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Under the scorching heat of the Texas sky, the only thing the Crimson Tide is looking to dish out is a heaping helping of punishment.

Yes Alabama can brag about how it’s the two-time defending BCS national champions and all that, but there was one, and by one I mean one and only one, blemish on an otherwise perfect resume. The Tide, who rolled to a 13-1 record last season, haven’t forgotten about the game (despite Nick Saban’s 24-hour rule), nor the opponent, that caused them to have a “1” at the end of their win-loss record.

The setting was Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The date was November 10, 2012, and the victory was a 29-24 upset of #1 Alabama by Texas A&M. Saban knows how much it means for a BCS national champion to go undefeated on its way to finally clutching the glass football. He’s been there before. Saban has repeatedly downplayed the need for revenge against A&M coach Kevin Sumlin and his band of Aggies, but the public isn’t so easily fooled.

If Saban and the Crimson Tide aren’t looking for revenge against the only team to beat them during last year’s BCS title run, then why are the events of Nov. 10, 2012, constantly being shown in the Alabama weight room on virtually every TV?

Of course the orchestrator of the Aggies stunning upset of Alabama needs no introduction. He is the name and face of collegiate football. He is the first freshman to ever claim the Heisman Trophy, and deservedly so. His name is Johnny Manziel, but perhaps you’ve heard of his other aliases such as “Johnny Football,” “Johnny Heisman,” or “Johnny Autograph.”

Manziel has quickly become the most polarizing figure in collegiate sports, maybe ever. Last year he was the NCAA’s darling who led a program from the middle of the Big 12 pack to the top of the SEC. As Manziel and the Aggies gained waves of momentum following each victory, the whole world outside of Tuscaloosa clamored for A&M to supplant Alabama at the BCS summit.

Following last season’s victory, one in which Manziel threw for 253 yards, passed for two touchdowns and ran for 92 more yards, everyone gushed over this Aggies team and more importantly Manziel. Fast forwarding to 2013, the general public has a much different perception of “Johnny Football.”

After an offseason dripping with controversy, Manziel’s image has taken a serious hit. People either love or hate him, with more people joining the latter grouping, but Manziel simply doesn’t care. Last year the Aggies were college football’s “it team.” This season, not so much. There are football fans countrywide hoping for any team to bring Manziel down a peg or two and bring about his comeuppance.

Enter the two-time defending BCS national champions who have also won three of four crystal footballs. The script has completely flipped from a season ago, as fans have called upon the SEC’s biggest bounty hunter to bring them Manziel’s head.

Players to Watch:

WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M – This kid is special. The true freshman flashed his big play ability by hauling in a 71-yard catch and run touchdown against Rice in week 1 that was a thing of beauty. He’s the kind of downfield specialist the Aggies offense needs in order to take pressure off of Manziel. The Sealy, TX, native didn’t play last week against Sam Houston State and is questionable for this Saturday’s game against Alabama. Coach Kevin Sumlin will have all hands on deck for this game, so if Seals-Jones can walk, he’ll play. If fully healthy, Seals-Jones has the ability to walk into the end zone time and time again, even against the Alabama secondary.

LB CJ Mosley, Alabama – This is the guy who’ll have two eyes on Manziel from the word “go.” The senior defensive captain of the Crimson Tide is a quiet star who is everything Manziel isn’t. He doesn’t showboat after a game-saving tackle, he doesn’t taunt a running back after he drags him to the ground, the 2012 first team All-American simply does his job better than most. He is the general of the Alabama defense who registered 107 tackles a season ago and was widely considered a first-round draft pick if he chose to turn pro. Thankfully for Saban, Mosley returned for his senior campaign to claim another national championship and to get one last crack at “Johnny Football.”

By the Numbers:

98 Following A&M’s upset of Alabama, the Crimson Tide defeated their two remaining regular season opponents by a combined score of 98-0, including a 49-0 dismantling of Auburn in the annual Iron Bowl. Think the Aggies’ victory upset Alabama a little bit? I’m thinking yeah.

345 The number of total yards Manziel racked up against the Alabama defense in 2012. His offensive performance coupled with the A&M victory effectively ended the Heisman Trophy discussion. The hardware was going home with a freshman.

1 Since Nick Saban took over the head coaching job at Alabama in 2007, no team has been able to defeat the Tide in back-to-back years, save for one. Saban’s Alabama squad fell to LSU in 2010 and again in 2011, although the Tide had the last laugh in the BCS title game.

Aaron Carr is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email adc5230@psu.edu.