Alabama Football: Why Texas A&M Will Be Tide's Toughest Competition in 2013

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2013

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Wide receiver Mike Evans #13 of the Texas A&M Aggies is tackled by cornerback John Fulton #10 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Alabama is on a dynastic run under Nick Saban, winning three national titles and tearing through the recruiting trail every season. On Saturdays in the fall, there are few teams that can matchup with the Crimson Tide and actually challenge for a win.

One of those teams is Texas A&M, and the Aggies are currently the toughest team on the Tide’s schedule heading into the 2013 season.

The game comes in Week 3 in College Station, and the Tide will be coming off of a Week 1 trip to Atlanta where they face off with Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

Last season the Johnny Manziel-led Aggies handed Alabama its only loss of the season, marching into Bryant-Denny Stadium and owning the game throughout the first half in front of a hostile Tide crowd.

Alabama struggled to stop the spread offense, and the playmaking ability of Manziel kept the Aggies offense alive, even when the Tide had them stopped schematically.

The past has brought a lot of struggle against the spread-option for Nick Saban’s Alabama team.

The one loss that occurred last season came against the spread-option, and the most embarrassing loss in Alabama history came against the spread-option when Auburn marched into Tuscaloosa in 2010 and walked out with a win.

Texas A&M returns Heisman winner Johnny Manziel at quarterback, three of its five starters along the offensive line and the leading rusher and receiver from 2012. This offense will be more explosive than it was a year ago.

Kevin Sumlin's Aggies had the Tide down by 20 within the first quarter and were able to hold onto the lead throughout the remaining three quarters by only scoring nine more points. What they can do this season may be more impressive.

The Crimson Tide are not built for the comeback win, but the Aggies are built for quick leads and explosive scores.

Alabama isn’t losing a ton of talent on defense, but the loss of safety Robert Lester and corner Dee Milliner will be huge when this Week 3 contest comes. There is little time for transition, and the opening week game against Virginia Tech will not be a cakewalk that will help Alabama troubleshoot the secondary.

This season, the Crimson Tide have a very light schedule in comparison to fellow SEC rivals, but the first two games are brutal.

The game against the Aggies will be the toughest test of 2013. If the Tide makes it out of College Station with a win, this team will be headed to its third straight national title, solidifying Nick Saban’s dynasty in Tuscaloosa.