GAMEDAY: The building of a rivalryBy Cody Estremera | 10/20/2016 12:42am
For Alabama fans, Texas A&M became a rival on Nov. 10, 2012. It marked the infamous day that Johnny Manziel led the Aggies into Bryant-Denny Stadium and defeated the Crimson Tide, 29-24.
Now the rivalry is renewed as No. 6 Texas A&M travels back to Tuscaloosa to challenge No. 1 Alabama for the top of the division and polls.
Alabama leads the rivalry with an all-time 6-2 record. Alabama has led the scoring, 271-155, in eight games.
The first time the two teams met up was in the 1942 Cotton Bowl. Alabama won that game, 29-21, because of defense and special teams. The Crimson Tide intercepted seven passes and also recovered five fumbles. Two of the interceptions and one of the fumbles resulted in touchdowns, too. Alabama’s offense only had a single first down and gained 75 total offensive yards (59 rushing and 16 passing).
The then-unranked Aggies would get revenge in the 1968 Cotton Bowl, where future Alabama coach Gene Stallings defeated his mentor, Bear Bryant, and the No. 8 Crimson Tide, 20-16. Unlike the first time the two teams played, the defense of Texas A&M won out. The Aggies had two fumble recoveries and two interceptions that led to scores. Former quarterback Edd Hargett passed for two of the three Aggie touchdowns.
The two teams later met up in the 80s, once in 1985 and again in 1988. Alabama won both of the meetings by allowing just 10 points in both games and averaging a score of 26.5 points for itself.
Since the 2012 matchup, Alabama has dominated Texas A&M, including the last time it hosted the Aggies in 2014. Alabama won, 59-0.
"That was a game where we just came out, our team was ready to play and it was one of those days," said tight end O.J. Howard. "You don’t always — you can’t always — go out and put up 59 points on an SEC opponent, but that was just one of those games"
The Crimson Tide has outgained the Aggies, 1,566-1,116, and outscored them by 84 points. In the last three matches, Alabama's defense has forced seven turnovers and has scored touchdowns on four of them.
Both teams have been ranked every year since Texas A&M joined the SEC. In 2013, Alabama was ranked first and Texas A&M was ranked sixth, just as they are this year.
“I wouldn't blow it out of proportion. It's the next game,” linebacker Ryan Anderson said. “We play in a tough conference so every game is a big one. The rankings don't mean anything. That year we went to Arkansas and played them 14-13, I don't know if they were even ranked. In this conference, you're going to get somebody's best shot every week. Every week is a tough game.”
Even with the hype around the game, Alabama is treating this game like any other. Coach Nick Saban stressed that the team continues to take the season one game at a time, as usual.
“Texas A&M probably presents as many issues as any team that we've played all year," Saban said. “There’s a lot of things necessary for us to do very well in this game, and it's going to take all phases going well to have a chance to be successful."