Texas A&M ready for biggest test of year
NOV 07, 2012 12:09p ET
The Aggies have even come close to knocking off perennial powers Florida and LSU. But with all respect to those two schools, they've got nothing on Alabama.
The Aggies (7-2, 4-2 in SEC West) will get to find that out first hand Saturday when they play at the top ranked Crimson Tide (9-0, 6-0).
It's a game the Aggies, who are 1-10 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams, are looking forward to.
"You watch video and you automatically see why it's the No. 1 team in the nation," Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin said. "Based on the last couple of weeks our team has developed a little more confidence. They're looking forward to this opportunity on national television."
What every Aggie fan has to hope for is that they're facing an Alabama team that's physically and emotionally spent after having to rally last weekend to beat LSU 21-17.
Unfortunately for the 15th-ranked Aggies, it doesn't sound like that's the case.
"I told the players after the game that week that this game is either going to bring out the best in your or the worst in you," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "We had a big win in a very difficult pace to play. We competed extremely well in the game. We sure did compete well and overcame a lot of adversity. Now we've got to focus on trying to do things right and do things better. This is a really good team we're playing this week."
The Aggies don't expect an Alabama letdown either. It's impossible to do that in the SEC, where there are currently six teams ranked in the top 15 in the BCS rankings.
"That's the way it is in this league," said Sumlin. "Everybody's going to go through that stretch. You see it with Florida. You see it with South Carolina. You see it with Alabama, LSU. In my first year in this league, that's the difference. They (Alabama) are experienced at it. They know what they're doing?
Like every other team in the SEC that's faced A&M, Alabama has focused on preparing for A&M's up-tempo offense led by redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel. It's completely different than the methodical approach Alabama has used and it's been something.
"It's probably the best offense team on our league especially in their presentation," Saban said. "Their quarterback (Manziel) has played phenomenally well for them. He's very athletic. I think it's going to be a real challenge. I think it would be a real challenge for anybody who plays against them. They've got a great scheme and defensively they put a lot of pressure on you."
Manziel, who has been named the SEC freshman of the week six times this year, will have to do better against Alabama than he did in the school's losses to LSU and Florida. He didn't throw a touchdown pass in either of those games and also had his two least productive games as far as a runner.
Sumlin knows Manziel is going to need some help from the rest of a talented offense.
"There's more to the football team and to the offense that one player," Sumlin said. "The other 10 players on the offense, their challenge from the beginning has to make the offense quarterback friendly. We've gotten better at that. It's a collective experience of the whole season that matters at this point. We're going to need more than one guy to go to Tuscaloosa and win."