TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama coach Nick Saban has never lost to a former assistant and looks to keep that mark intact when the top-ranked Crimson Tide host Jimbo Fisher and No. 22 Texas A&M in an SEC battle on Saturday. Fisher served as LSU offensive coordinator under Saban from 2000-04 and aims to dent Saban's 12-0 mark against former pupils.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Alabama -27
Fisher is well aware his team faces long odds against the Crimson Tide, who have become the first SEC team to score 50 or more points in each of the first three games of a season. "He's created a culture at his place, they expect to win and they know how to win," Fisher said at a press conference. "He's got good players and they're well coached, that makes it a real good combination." Saban feels the Aggies are a dangerous opponent even though Fisher is just beginning to put his fingerprints on the program after leaving Florida State for the post. "I think everybody that takes over a program is really working hard to establish the principles and values of the organization," Saban said at his weekly press conference. "The standard that you want people to work to in terms of effort, toughness, intangibles, discipline, things like that. Jimbo has obviously done a really good job of that."
ABOUT TEXAS A&M (2-1, 0-0 SEC)
Fisher fell to Saban in last year's season opener when Alabama beat Florida State 24-7 and now will try to solve the vaunted Alabama defense with junior running back Trayveon Williams (SEC-leading 399 rushing yards, four touchdowns) and sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond (824 yards, six touchdowns, no interceptions). "He's doing a really nice job right now, playing really good football," Fisher said of Mond. "He's playing smart football. That's what's got me excited. He's making plays all up and down the field, but he's playing good, smart football." Senior linebacker Otaro Alaka has a team-best 16 tackles while senior defensive end Landis Durham has recorded a team-leading 3.5 tackles for loss.
ABOUT ALABAMA (3-0, 1-0)
The Crimson Tide are averaging 56.7 points and 544.7 yards per game after trampling Ole Miss 62-7 last Saturday in their SEC opener. Sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has completed 72 percent of his passes for 646 yards and eight touchdowns, while regularly hitting big plays with sophomore receivers Jerry Jeudy (11 catches for 287 yards and six touchdowns) and DeVonta Smith (10 catches for 204 yards with one score). Junior cornerback Saivion Smith, junior safety Shyheim Carter and sophomore safety Xavier McKinney all have returned interceptions for touchdowns while junior safety Deionte Thompson leads the team with two picks.
1. Alabama has won five straight meetings and holds an 8-2 series lead.
2. Williams has 11 career rushes of 40 or more yards.
3. The Crimson Tide have topped 500 yards of total offense in all three games.
PREDICTION: Alabama 45, Texas A&M 17