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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, September 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM

Alabama’s scheduled shaped up very well for a team that had revenge on its mind for its only gridiron loss of 2012. They’d get a tune-up as three-touchdown favorites over Virginia Tech on a neutral field (just enough of a tester to get them focused…but not enough to be a real threat). Then, they’d get a bye week that would allow for maximum preparation against an offense that embarrassed them last year in Tuscaloosa.

Will a bye week AND revenge be enough to defeat Johnny Manziel and the Aggies in College Station. Or, were there signs in that opener with Virginia Tech that things will be more difficult than the media and the market expects?


Last Week’s Results

*Alabama: didn’t play last week, but their 35-10 victory over Virginia Tech in their season opener was full of cheap points from special teams and defense (more on that in a moment)

*Texas A&M beat Sam Houston State 65-28 in a glorified scrimmage. And, that was after taking care of Rice the week before. Neither of those smaller Texas schools are doormats compared to other parts of the country (the Aggies were favored by 28 and 35 rather than 45 of 50). But, they don’t exactly represent great preparation for a juggernaut like Alabama.


Last Week’s Yardage

*This is where it gets interesting. Alabama was actually outgained 212-206 by Virginia Tech in their only 2013 outing. The Tide’s offense was HORRIBLE unless you like a lot of punts. The passing game struggled because the QB couldn’t get time to throw. The running game was largely stuffed. In terms of roster-wide talent, Alabama truly is a great team. That could get derailed by a sluggish offense in the games where cheap points aren’t falling from the sky.

*Texas A&M outgained Sam Houston 714-390, but was outgained by Rice 509-486 in the game where Manziel sat out the first half. Those are very poor defensive numbers in context…which could be the chink in the armor that prevents the Aggies from having a second straight fantastic season.

This is not something you often see in a titanic TV battle. But, the favorite has a shaky offense…and the possibly live home dog has a poor defense!

This will be the last week where we include stats and data from last season in our college showcase previews. Let’s quickly run through the gauntlet.


2012 Records

Alabama: 13-1 (beat Notre Dame in BCS Championship Game)

Texas A&M: 11-2 (beat Oklahoma 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl)

You know that Alabama’s only loss was at home against Texas A&M. They won’t get caught napping this time. The Aggies may still be capable of beating them. It won’t be due to a flat effort from the Tide, or extreme overconfidence.


2012 Offense

Alabama: 31 in total offense (75 in passing, 16 in rushing)

Texas A&M: 3 in total offense (14 in passing, 11 in rushing)

Alabama was better than people realized last year in terms of offensive explosiveness. Issues on the offensive line this year may hurt their rankings. You know the Aggies were one of the greatest shows on turf for a season. Can they do that again in a tough defensive conference?


2012 Defense

Alabama: 1 in total defense (7 in passing, 1 in rushing)

Texas A&M: 57 in total defense (86 in passing, 35 in rushing)

Big problems for the Aggies on defense, particularly against the pass. That’s a poor ranking in a league that didn’t have many good quarterbacks.


Returning Starters (Projected Quarterback)

Alabama: 6 on offense, 8 on defense (A.J. McCarron)

Texas A&M: 6 on offense, 5 on defense (Johnny Manziel)

Alabama should have a fantastic defense again…and that unit really sparkled against Virginia Tech. The Aggies new starters are largely untested. That’s about to change!

Current Vegas Line: Alabama by 8, total of 61

Oddsmakers and sharps still think the world of the Crimson Tide. That equates to an 11-point line on a neutral field (maybe 12 given how much home value the Aggies usually get), and a line of 14-15 in Tuscaloosa (consistent with last year).

JIM HURLEY has been handicapping this game all summer because he knew it would be the “college Super Bowl of September.” If there’s an edge to be found, it will be part of the Saturday ticket as a major release or a leg of our weekly TV Parlay. You can purchase the Saturday college card in the morning before the early games kick off (after building your bankroll with Air Force/Boise State Friday Night!). Game day BEST BETS are always available here at the site for credit card purchase. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

Our Saturday edition of the HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK will preview the evening showdown between Wisconsin and Arizona State (because you don’t need a preview telling you that Purdue has been horrible this year heading into their TV game with Notre Dame!). Then it’s 49ers/Seahawks Sunday, and Steelers/Bengals Monday for TV stat previews.

A fantastic weekend of college and pro football is underway. Be sure you GET ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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