New Mexico St Alabama Football

Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings (33) battles New Mexico State offensive lineman Brian Trujillo (78). Jennings leads Alabama in sacks with three and tackles for loss with five. [VASHA HUNT/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS]

When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday

Where: College Station, Texas

TV/Radio: CBS/FM-93.9, AM-920

The line: Alabama by 16.5

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Four-down territory

1. Beware Kellen Mond: Alabama will be dealing with another dual-threat quarterback in the multi-talented Kellen Mond. The Aggies quarterback has rushed and passed for a touchdown in the same game 10 times in his career, more than any other current SEC starting quarterback at their current institution. Mond is third in the SEC in passing yards and TD passes. Alabama had trouble containing Ole Miss QB John Rhys Plumlee in the run game two weeks ago, and Mond is perhaps even more dangerous.

2. Unstoppable Alabama offense: In its three toughest games, Texas A&M has allowed 24 points to Clemson, 28 points to Auburn and 27 points to Arkansas. Alabama’s offense is better than all three of those, so expect Nick Saban’s team to better those point totals, perhaps in the first half. The Crimson Tide has not scored fewer than 42 points in a game all season.

3. Kicking woes a thing of the past?: It’s no secret Alabama’s kicking and punting have left a little to be desired. Will Reichard was decent, but not spectacular, before getting injured, and Skylar DeLong’s 35 yard per punt average is downright bad. Reichard might return in some capacity against the Aggies, but the kicking game is definitely a concern for Nick Saban going forward as the schedule gets tougher.

4. Improved defense: Alabama spent a lot of time during its week off trying to shore up its tackling. Alabama has had trouble on the perimeter getting players to the ground, and it will be interesting to see if the Tide does a better job against the Aggies.

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Key Matchup

Alabama secondary vs. Kellen Mond

The Aggies average 292 yards per game through the air and Mond is third in the SEC among starting quarterbacks. If Alabama’s defense can keep him contained and get pressure, the secondary should be able to hang with the Aggies receivers. If Mond gets out of the pocket, he could have a big day.

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Player of the week

Najee Harris, RB

Texas A&M will be so intent on slowing down Tua Tagovailoa and his receivers that it might give Harris a chance to shine, both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. Alabama still hasn’t hit its stride with the rushing attack, but Saturday might be the day.

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By the numbers

30: Number of tackles for loss Alabama’s defense has had in five games this season. That’s five less than Texas A&M.

9: Number of wins by Alabama in 11 games with the Aggies. The Crimson Tide is 4-0 in College Station and has won six in a row in the series.

78: Coach Nick Saban will coach his 78th game as Alabama’s coach when the Tide has been ranked No. 1. Saban is 69-8 as coach of a top-ranked Tide team.

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Prediction

Alabama 42, Texas A&M 21

Look for the Aggies to score some points, but Alabama is simply too good offensively to lose. It will overcome its defensive liabilities, Tagovailoa will have another big day and the Tide will get another win.

- Gregg Dewalt

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