College Football
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3 0 7 9 19
4:15 PM PT5:15 PM MT6:15 PM CT7:15 PM ET11:15 PM GMT7:15 AM 北京时间4:15 PM MST6:15 PM EST, Oct. 7, 2017
Kyle Field, College Station, Texas  Attendance: 101,058

No. 1 Alabama preps for 'strongest' foe in Texas A&M

Alabama Crimson Tide at Texas A&M Aggies

  1. Alabama has won the last four games in this series, including a 33-14 home victory last season. This will be the first time since 1988 that the Aggies have not been ranked in the AP Poll when they've faced Alabama.
  2. The Crimson Tide are the only FBS team that has not committed a turnover this season. In fact, Alabama has not had a giveaway in any of its last eight games, a streak that dates to its win over Florida in the 2016 SEC Championship Game.
  3. Calvin Ridley has had at least one reception in each of Alabama's last 35 contests. This is the second-longest active streak of consecutive team games with 1+ catch by any player in the FBS (James Washington (OkSt), 37).
  4. Texas A&M is outgaining its opponents by an average of 159.8 (255.6-95.8) yards per game on the ground this season. That is the 10th-best margin in the FBS. Alabama, meanwhile, has the third-best margin (+241.8).
  5. Keith Ford (302, 7) and Trayveon Williams (384, 5) are one of four sets of teammates in the FBS who each have run for 300+ yards and 5+ touchdowns this season.

Texas A&M is unranked and still trying to live down its epic collapse in its season-opener at UCLA.

Coughing up a 44-10 lead and losing 45-44 in Pasadena meant the Aggies immediately dropped off the radar, and not many have noticed that they have won four straight, including Southeastern Conference victories over Arkansas and South Carolina in the past two weeks.

But now Texas A&M steps back into the spotlight in a huge way with a home game Saturday against No. 1 Alabama in College Station, Texas. And Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban is plenty aware of the challenge. Good luck catching him napping on an opponent.

"Texas A&M is the strongest team that we've played to this point, looking at them from a holistic standpoint," Saban said Monday. "They're a very explosive offensive team. They run the ball very effectively and they've got really good running backs."

However, whether it was gamesmanship or a frank evaluation of how college football games can unravel, Saban also brought up the Aggies' meltdown in the Rose Bowl.

"The team's ahead 41-10 ... and ends up getting beat," Saban said.

"You've got to keep playing. The way college football is right now, people are very prolific at scoring a lot of points. You've got to keep scoring on offense, you've got to keep moving the ball on offense. ... Keep making plays for 60 minutes in the game."

Alabama (5-0, 2-0) has won four straight versus Texas A&M (4-1, 2-0) after the Aggies defeated the Crimson Tide, 29-24, in their first meeting as SEC opponents in 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The Alabama-Texas A&M matchup has been a showdown of top-10 teams in three of the past four meetings.

Most Aggie fans would circle the Crimson Tide coming to town as the biggest game of the season. However, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin attempted to downplay that factor during his weekly press conference.

"(The Aggie players are) going to hear from everybody walking around that this is a different week when reality is it's not," Sumlin said. "No matter what happens Saturday, we're playing football the next week."

Alabama has beaten Vanderbilt and Ole Miss by a combined 125-3 in the past two weeks, and into the teeth of that defense steps Texas A&M true freshman quarterback Kellen Mond, who has had success running as well as throwing. He passed for 159 yards and ran for a team-high 95 in the win over South Carolina. Running backs Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams added 70 and 56 yards, respectively.

The degree of difficulty jumps up this week against the Crimson Tide's fearsome front seven -- even without defensive lineman Da'Shawn Hand, who is out because of an MCL injury suffered last week.

"Better be able to block 'em and people have had a really, really difficult time doing that over the last five weeks," Sumlin said.

An even bigger concern for the Aggies might be their inconsistent defense that's tasked with slowing down Alabama's multi-dimensional offense.

The Crimson Tide rolled up 365 rushing yards and five touchdowns in a 66-3 victory over Mississippi last week. Quarterback Jalen Hurts led Alabama with 101 rushing yards, while still passing for 197 and a pair of touchdowns.

"(Hurts) is really dangerous as a quarterback, but when he puts it down and runs is when good things happen for them and bad things happen for the other team," Sumlin said.

"Our pass rush has got to continue to be as athletic and as disruptive as it's been, but we've got to be aware that we're playing a quarterback this week that can escape that pass rush and go for yardage. So we've got to be more disciplined in what we're doing."

Saban said Hurts is improving his ability to consider his options when he starts to scramble. Hurts is better this season at throwing the ball down the field on extended plays. That could be trouble for a Texas A&M defense that will already be stretched thin by multiple responsibilities.

"This certainly is not the time to relax or be satisfied," Saban said.

So far, Hurt has leaned on wide receiver Calvin Ridley, who has 24 catches for 322 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His 24 receptions are four times more than anyone else on the Alabama roster.

Hurts leads the team in rushing with 461 yards, but Alabama always has fresh legs in the backfield with Damien Harris 376 yards), Bo Scarbrough (239) and Najee Harris (199), among others.

Updated October 3, 2017

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