Alabama and Texas A&M finally meet in a top-10 showdown this Saturday. This game is being billed as a rematch, but that rarely happens in college football because the dynamics change each year. For example the Aggies don't have Damontre Moore or Ryan Swope, both of which played big in last year's win.
The Tide will be looking for payback without Barrett Jones, D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack up front plus Eddie Lacy has gone to the NFL too. But the coaches are the same and the quarterbacks are as well. Expect plenty of emotion and passion Saturday.
The Southeastern Conference also has two other key conference games with Vandy at South Carolina and Mississippi State at Auburn.
Alabama at Texas A&M
The key matchup will be the revamped Tide offensive line against the youthful Aggie defensive front. Bama had a week to fix its run game that struggled in the opener against Virginia Tech.
Bama is 51-0 since 2008 when it rushes for at least 140 yards. In the seven losses during that time span the Crimson Tide have averaged just 84.5 yards per game on the ground.
Texas A&M has already played three true freshman on the defensive line this season. They are 117th in the country in rush defense, allowing 273 yards per game. Julien Obioha is the Aggies best pass-rush threat on the edge, but he is just a sophomore. Only two of the top 10 defensive lineman are upperclassman and none are seniors.
Johnny Manziel and the offense has plenty of weapons and tempo to challenge the Tide defense. Mike Evans the outstanding receiver was held in check by John Fulton last season in Tuscaloosa, so keep an eye on that matchup.
A&M picked up where it left off last season converting 60 percent of its third downs already this season. Ben Molena could be an "X" factor in the run game and is a weapon in the passing game.
For Bama, I expect T.J. Yeldon to be a big factor in this game. He may not have much help behind him, so look for a 25-plus carry workload for Yeldon. AJ McCarron is 26-2 as the starting quarterback and averages just one interception thrown every 79 passes.
Stats: The Aggies have the longest SEC win streak at eight and are 1-4 all time against teams ranked No. 1 at Kyle Field. Nick Saban is 7-1 in "revenge" games and Alabama has won 15 in a row on the road.
Kentucky leads the all-time series with Louisville 14-11 and is 8-7 in Lexington. The Cats are 16th in the country in total offense and have settled on Maxwell Smith as the starter. A good sign for an upset will be third-down defense against Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville. The Wildcats are allowing just 11.5 percent conversions on third down.
LSU takes on Kent State and the offense is rolling under Cam Cameron, averaging 46.5 points and 446 yards of total offense per game. Zach Mettenberger's 6 touchdowns and 553 yards are the most by any quarterback in the first two games in Tiger history. LSU is 66-5 under Les Miles when they score more than 25 points.
Arkansas looks to go to 3-0 against Southern Miss while pounding the ball on the ground with Alex Collins and Jonathan Williams. Arkansas is the only SEC team and one of three in the country (Oregon and Wisconsin) that has multiple 100-yard rushers in the first two games
Ole Miss has a shot at redemption this Saturday against Texas. The Rebels will surely look to focus on the ground game against the Longhorns who gave up 550 yards last week in a loss to BYU. This will be the eighth meeting between the schools with Texas leading 6-1.The Rebels are looking for their first 3-0 start since 1989. Jeff Scott is averaging over 10 yards per carry on the season.
South Carolina looks to shore up its defense against Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks have not forced a turnover through two games. Last season the Gamecocks force 24. Jadeveon Clowney has the same stats through two games this season as last year with one sack and six tackles. South Carolina has won four straight in the series.
Vanderbilt is looking for its first win over a ranked opponent since 2008. The Commodores are perfect in the red zone this season converting 8-of-8.They have scored an impressive seven touchdowns in eight trips for 88 percent touchdown conversion rate. The Commodores have won three in a row on the road in league play.
Auburn is averaging 298 yards per game on the ground in two games. During their national championship season in 2010 the Tigers averaged 284 yards per game. Both Tre Mason and Cameron Artis-Payne are ranked in the top 10 in rushing in the league. Auburn leads the SEC with 20 runs of 10 or more yards this season.
Mississippi State is looking to open its conference schedule with a win over Auburn for the second straight season. The Dogs also like to run the ball with Ladarius Perkins and freshman Ashton Shumpart, who had 98 yards a week ago. Mississippi State has generated just one sack in two games.
Tennessee has a tall task traveling to Oregon and will need to continue its trend of forcing turnovers to upset No. 2 Oregon. The Vols are first in the SEC and third in the country in turnover margin at plus-seven. The Oregon offense has 15 scoring drives of under two minutes already this season. Tennessee will need to run to win and they are averaging 277 yards on the ground this season.