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All Eyes on Kyle Field

Saturday's showdown at Texas A&M is sure to be a barnburner

By Rod Machen, 10:39AM, Thu. Sep. 12, 2013

Head coach Kevin Sumlin
Head coach Kevin Sumlin
photo by Texas A&M Athletic Department

It’s being heralded as the Game of the Century of the Year: #1 Alabama and #6 Texas A&M. No doubt it’s going to be a big one.

The statement holds especially true for the Aggies, America’s up-and-comers, who aren’t so familiar with playing on such a stage. The Crimson Tide might as well set up shop on the national TV circuit, but this one’s still special. For ‘Bama, Saturday afternoon’s about revenge. 

Alabama has won three of the last four national titles. Since then, they’ve only lost two games at home: in 2011 to LSU and last year to the Aggies.

What’s more, the way in which head coach Kevin Sumlin’s A&M squad won was shocking. QB Johnny Manziel and company jumped out to a 20-0 lead before the vaunted Crimson Tide defense woke up. ‘Bama bounced back, but an interception of QB A. J. McCarron on the final series by Aggie DB Deshazor Everett sealed the deal at 29-24, leaving the Tuscaloosa faithful in shock. Hoisting the BCS championship trophy a couple of months afterward did nothing to diminish their dissatisfaction, especially that of head coach Nick Saban.

Round two’s now set for 2:30pm Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station, and a lot has happened since last time. Manziel won the Heisman Trophy, while the Aggies finished the year at the Cotton Bowl, where they throttled Oklahoma.

So what’s on the line? In the short term, control of the SEC West and a clear path towards winning the league. Beyond that, a spot in the National Championship game isn’t a far reach. 

On a macro level, this weekend showcases two opposing styles of football: Saban’s power-running attack and NFL-style defense versus Sumlin’s air-raid offense dipped in “Johnny Football” special sauce. The result will presage the next dominant era in college football, thus influencing the next round of coaching hires. This might sound like hyperbole, but college football follows trends, and right now Oregon and A&M are pushing hurry-up offenses to the front of the line.

There are other, more local fish to fry here, as well. For the Aggies, a win would serve as culmination of a new era, one that began two winters ago with a move to the SEC. There’s no doubt the Aggies are still looking to separate themselves from the Longhorns. A new conference and a new head coach have gone a long way toward this goal, but a signature win on the way to a championship would clinch it. 

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