HOUSTON – The last blockbuster of the summer is set in Texas.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M. Johnny Football trying to derail the Crimson Tide dynasty. Who is the hero and who is the villain depends upon your perspective. And, of course, it’s a sequel.
The Tide (1-0) and Aggies (2-0) meet today in the most anticipated and talked-about game of the season.
Just how big is this game, Tide coach Nick Saban?
“Obviously this is an exciting game for our team, the players in our program,” Saban said.
Last year’s victory propelled A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy.
For the Tide, the loss was a detour on the way to a second straight national championship. Saban’s team is trying to become the first to win three straight titles. The Aggies have championship aspirations, too.
Five things to know about the latest SEC Game of the Century:
Hold the line
Alabama’s rebuilt offensive line was one of the few areas of concern for the Tide coming into the season. The Virginia Tech game did nothing to soothe the worry warts. The Tide didn’t crack 100 yards rushing against Hokies.
Texas A&M’s defense has been leaky against Rice and Sam Houston State. To plug the holes, the Aggies get back four key players – linebacker Steven Jenkins, defensive end Gavin Stansbury and cornerbacks Deshazor Everett and De’Vante Harris – after they missed much or all the first two games because of various suspensions. Jenkins is one of the few seniors on defense.
The other QB
AJ McCarron is no Johnny Football, but Alabama fans aren’t complaining. The senior has two national championship rings and is one of the best quarterbacks in the country. One of his few mistakes last season was an interception near A&M’s goal line late in the fourth quarter.
So, how do you stop Manziel?
Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart are about as good it gets when it comes to mixing defensive coverages, but Manziel is a game-plan wrecker. And A&M is loaded with talented tailbacks and receivers, so it’s not like he’s doing it on his own.
As Alabama safety HaHa Clinton-Dix described Manziel: “He’s one of a kind, if you ask me.”
Yes, CBS will have a camera on Manziel all day. Coach Kevin Sumlin was not pleased. And he doesn’t want Johnny Football to play with any less passion.
“The intensity and emotion that he plays with is part of his game,” Sumlin said.