The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Sports

September 12, 2013

Alabama, Texas A&M meet in SEC showdown

— GAME OF THE WEEK: No. 1 Alabama at No. 6 Texas A&M. The meeting between the two SEC Western Division powers has been anticipated for almost a year after Texas A&M upset Alabama 29-24 last season in Tuscaloosa. Though there's been plenty of scrutiny on the matchup, there hasn't been a lot of trash talk. Alabama's players say revenge hasn't been a topic — just winning. Said Alabama coach Nick Saban, "People who get emotional sometimes don't make the best decisions."

BEST MATCHUP: No. 25 Mississippi offense vs. Texas defense: Texas plays its first game since giving up 550 yards rushing in a 40-21 loss to BYU, a performance that resulted in the firing of defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Greg Robinson replaced Diaz and faces a Mississippi rushing attack that averages 5.5 yards per carry. "It certainly is an uncomfortable feeling," Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze said. "We already had a shell of a game plan together based on what they had done last year and early this year. Is it still a good plan? I don't know."

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: This marks the first time in school history that Arkansas has opened the season with two 100-yard rushers (Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins) in consecutive games. No. 2 Oregon and No. 20 Wisconsin are the only other Football Bowl Subdivision teams to have multiple 100-yard rushers in their first two games. Collins, the SEC rushing leader with 151.5 yards per game, is the first freshman in school history to start his career with two 100-yard performances.

LONGSHOT: No. 13 South Carolina can't afford to spend the week brooding over its 41-30 loss to Georgia. The Gamecocks are favored by 13 ½ points over the Commodores, but they struggled to win 17-13 at Vanderbilt last year. South Carolina's players say they won't let the loss to Georgia affect their focus. "Everyone's angry, and we want to take it out on someone else," South Carolina tailback Mike Davis said.

IMPACT PLAYER: It has to be Johnny Football. Texas A&M's Heisman Trophy winner has been surrounded by nearly constant off-the-field controversy for the past few months, but the sophomore continues to put up big numbers when he's playing. Johnny Manziel threw for 253 yards and rushed for 92 more in last year's win over the Tide, and there's little doubt a similar performance will be needed on Saturday.

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