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Alabama vs. Texas A&M: An Aggies Win Would Crack National Title Hunt Wide Open

TUSCALOOSA, AL - NOVEMBER 10:  Quarterback Johnny Manziel #2, defensive back Dustin Harris #22 and wide receiver Kenric McNeal #5 of the Texas A&M Aggies celebrate after the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium on November 10, 2012 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.  The Aggies beat the Crimson Tide 29-24.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images
Andrew GouldFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 23, 2017

College football voters have gotten an easy head start to filling out their rankings, chalking up Alabama as the nation's premier team by a wide margin.

But if Texas A&M can replicate last year's results and best the top-ranked squad, the race for the top spot will quickly become cluttered with contenders.

Leading up to this weekend's major showdown, the Crimson Tide are ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25, receiving 57 of 60 first-place votes. If the Aggies win, who claims the top spot?

Oregon, Clemson and Ohio State each enter Saturday with a sole backer for the top billing, showing that neither exists as the clear heir apparent to the throne. 

The Ducks have not missed a beat in Chip Kelly's absence, scoring 125 points through two contests. They'll take on the 2-0 Tennessee Volunteers, who have accrued 97 points of their own. While the match will provide Oregon with its first full test, a convincing win against an SEC squad would help legitimize the team's title aspirations.

Despite losing starting quarterback Braxton Miller early in the first quarter, Ohio State easily steamrolled San Diego State to improve to 2-0. Second-stringer Kenny Guiton picked apart the Aztecs.

Then again, Clemson holds a major victory to its credit, starting No. 9 Georgia's season with a loss. Beating a premier opponent holds a lot of sway, which makes the Tigers primed to pounce if the Crimson Tide falter. 

The Crimson Tide carry the most talent in college football, armed with a Heisman candidate at quarterback and a defense swarming with future NFL difference-makers. But despite the giant headache all the Johnny Manziel drama has generated, the sophomore is still incredibly good at playing football.

Manziel has compiled 494 passing yards and six touchdowns through three halves of football, making him a major threat to collect another Heisman Trophy.

He dumbfounded Alabama's swarming defense last year, completing 24 of 31 passes for 253 yards while adding 92 yards on the ground. Equally apt in and out of the pocket, Manziel will challenge Alabama again, vying for a BCS title appearance in the process.

ESPN produced a nifty graphic to highlight his versatility in the passing and rushing game.

So Texas A&M has a shot to upset Alabama, but how far does a win move them up the rankings? By the law of Ric Flair, that transforms them into the team to beat. If the Aggies beat the Crimson Tide yet again, they have to receive No. 1 consideration in the polls. 

If Alabama loses, the rankings become a complete, utter mess with at least four schools staking a legitimate claim for the highest position. That type of open competitiveness works great in a playoff format, but it could instead yet again show why the BCS should have vanished years ago.

 

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