Poking the Crimson Tide
Coach Nick Saban and Alabama have dominated the Southeastern Conference for more than a decade. Only three SEC teams have won multiple games against the Crimson Tide since 2012. Texas A&M is one of those squads. On Saturday, top-ranked Alabama will defend its undefeated record in a prime-time matchup with the Aggies. After losing to Texas A&M last season paired with added offseason drama, this clash has been circled on Saban’s calendar.
Not many teams have frustrated Alabama to this degree. Texas A&M has been a thorn in Saban’s side.
Select Few Fire Up Nick Saban
Along with Texas A&M, Auburn and OIe Miss have given the Crimson Tide some trouble. Not exactly the teams you were probably expecting. Most would guess powerhouse programs like LSU and Georgia. Both have one win over Alabama since 2012. LSU’s win came in 2019 (46-41), the same year it won the national title. Of course, Georgia beat the Crimson Tide (33-18) in the 2022 national championship game. That’s how good Alabama has been – even SEC powers have struggled against Saban.
So how did these unlikely teams take down the king of the SEC? As in typical college football fashion, some of Alabama’s losses came at the most unexpected times. Texas A&M, Ole Miss and Auburn have found ways to antagonize the Crimson Tide, taking them out of character.
Auburn has always pulled off upsets in one of college football’s greatest rivalries — The Iron Bowl. The Tigers have the most wins (three) against the Crimson Tide since 2012. Ole Miss defeated Alabama in back-to-back years from 2014-15. This was during coach Hugh Freeze’s tenure, which came to an ugly end following a scandal.
Now, Texas A&M is the latest program to give Saban fits. The Aggies had success in the 2012 and 2013 seasons when Johnny “Football” Manziel was quarterbacking. In 2012, Texas A&M won 29-24 in Tuscaloosa after taking an early 20-0 lead. A year later, the Aggies lost a shootout 49-42.
Texas A&M hired coach Jimbo Fisher ahead of the 2018 season. Alabama dominated the Aggies in his first three seasons. However, Fisher found something last year. As major underdogs, Texas A&M defeated (41-38) the then-top-ranked Crimson Tide.
The Aggies did it on the back of quarterback play and crucial mistakes by Alabama, which included two turnovers and 82 penalty yards. Texas A&M knows the recipe for success: Good quarterback play and frustrate Alabama. Fisher is looking to tap into that once more.
Fisher Fans the Flame
As mentioned, drama surrounds the upcoming Texas A&M vs. Alabama showdown. Ahead of the 2022 season, Fisher and Saban had a heated exchange.
It started with Saban alluding to Texas A&M taking advantage of name, imagine and likeness (NIL) deals that would pay recruits to commit to the Nick Saban. Once Fisher heard the word of it, he didn’t back down.
Here’s Jimbo Fisher’s opening salvo on Nick Saban’s comments about Texas A&M recruiting and encouraging people to dig into where Saban’s own background: pic.twitter.com/KzHHdkznla
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) May 19, 2022
Fisher jumped off the top rope with no remorse, calling Saban a “narcissist”and saying “Some people think they’re God.”
Afterward, Saban and Fisher eased back and focused on the season ahead. You better believe the bad blood will re-emerge on Saturday. The two have history, as Fisher coached under Saban at LSU from 2000-04. This matchup is personal. Both coaches will find any and every way to motivate their teams for Week 6’s battle.
According to NCAAF odds, Alabama is a heavy favorite (-24) against Texas A&M, who will be without starting quarterback Max Johnson (hand). However, don’t count out the Aggies. Rivalries can level the playing field, especially in college sports. That was the case last season. This time, the Aggies will have to bring their own juice as visitors, which should not be a problem in this heated affair.
Plus, Fisher has extra motivation as fans call for his job. The Aggies turned their 2021 season around by defeating the Crimson Tide. Will Texas A&M do it again? Saban might combust if they do.