TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Breaking down No. 1 Alabama’s 33-14 victory over No. 6 Texas A&M at Bryant-Denny Stadium:
THE BIG PICTURE: There were no big revelations here Saturday. Alabama is really, really good and there’s no legitimate challenger right now in the SEC. The Crimson Tide just have too much of everything and can get away with playing imperfectly because the defense and special teams create a large margin for error. And the cumulative effect of all those little advantages usually leads to a runaway, as it did in the fourth quarter against Texas A&M. Nick Saban now takes his 8-0 record into the bye week, and there are really only two tests remaining in the regular season: at LSU on Nov. 5 and Auburn in the regular-season finale. But the way Alabama is playing, it’s hard to imagine this team losing to anyone in the SEC; in fact, it’s almost gotten a bit boring.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M still has a lot to play for. Though winning the SEC West is a pipe dream, the Aggies still have huge home games coming up against Ole Miss and LSU. If they run the table, they’ll be a lock for a New Year’s Six bowl with a way, way, way outside shot at the playoff if there was a total meltdown in other leagues.
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KEY PLAY: There was no doubt Texas A&M grabbed momentum early in the second half. Despite getting severely outplayed (and outgained 303-150) in the first half, a late touchdown brought the Aggies within 13-7. Then with the first possession of the second half, they marched 75 yards on seven plays to take a 14-13 lead. The Bryant-Denny crowd seemed nervous, and Texas A&M’s defense had backed Alabama up into third-and-10. The Aggies brought their pass rush and forced quarterback Jalen Hurts to throw the ball away, but an unforgivable and unnecessary roughing the passer penalty by linebacker Shaan Washington got Alabama out of trouble. That was Texas A&M’s chance, and instead the Crimson Tide scored a touchdown nine plays later to re-take the lead for good.
KEY STAT: Alabama scored a defensive touchdown for an unbelievable 10th straight game when Jonathan Allen scooped up Keith Ford’s fumble and ran it back 29 yards to extend Alabama’s lead to 26-14. It was an absolutely backbreaking play for Texas A&M, which was trying to hang in the game and had essentially given up on the series facing third-and-26. But Ford never got a great grip on the handoff, and Ryan Anderson spun him around and popped it loose, essentially ending any chance Texas A&M might have had. The last time Alabama played without scoring a defensive touchdown was last year’s SEC championship game.