Originally written on Midwest Sports Fans  |  Last updated 11/18/14
One of the most anticipated games of the season takes plays in Week 3 of the college football year, when Alabama and Texas A&M battle for an early season edge in the SEC West. Johnny Manziel and the Alabama defense will be headlining this game, but here are some other things to look for during Saturday’s contest. Texas A&M’s defense The Aggies have been atrocious defensively in their first two games of the season, surrendering 31 points to Rice in the opening week and 28 to Sam Houston State last Saturday. Texas A&M ranks 84th in points allowed and has given up nearly 900 yards of offensive production in its first two games. While the offense has been productive, playing against Alabama will be a different story. If the Aggies can’t get the Alabama offense off the field, it will be a long afternoon in College Station for Kevin Sumlin.   A.J. McCarron’s accuracy In the season opener, McCarron completed just 10 of his 23 passes for 110 yards against Virginia Tech. McCarron isn’t on any Heisman Trophy lists or known to be a “game-changer,” but his ability to manage a game has made him successful in Nick Saban’s offense. The offense doesn’t need to spectacular on Saturday, especially against a bad Texas A&M defense, but Alabama will need to be consistent. In last year’s meeting, McCarron finished 21-for-34 for 309 yards and a touchdown, but threw two costly interceptions that hindered the Crimson Tide. He doesn’t have to record big numbers on Saturday, but hovering around a 60 percent completion rate and taking care of the football will be essential to keeping Texas A&M’s offense on the sideline.   Christion Jones in the return game In the Week 1 win over Virginia Tech, Jones returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns, proving that Alabama is dangerous in every aspect of the game. Jones has the capability to break a game wide open and was a game-changer against the Hokies. If Alabama’s special teams unit is sound and Jones is weaving in and out of tacklers as he was two weeks ago, it could leave a short field for the Alabama offense and can separate the Crimson Tide from the Aggies.   Texas A&M’s running game Even though the Aggies have last season’s Heisman Trophy winner under center, it doesn’t take away from a solid rushing attack they’ve had through the first two weeks of the season. The backfield duo of Ben Malena and Tra Carson has combined for 300 yards and six touchdowns on the ground. The running backs won’t have as much success against Alabama, as the Crimson Tide’s defensive line will be able to make some plays, but providing a balanced offensive attack will prove beneficial for the Aggies in this contest. Look for a healthy dose of Malena and Carson in addition to the passing game from Manziel.   Time of possession This may be the most interesting aspect of the game. Texas A&M is going to want to keep its offense on the field for as long as possible on Saturday. However, Alabama doesn’t need to win the time of possession battle to win the game. With the biggest question mark of the game surrounding A&M’s defense, the only way the Aggies can win is if Manziel is on the field, taking care of the football and putting up points. Alabama, on the other hand, has the ability to create turnovers and put itself in good field position thanks to big plays on special teams. If the Crimson Tide control the ball for more than 28 minutes, it will spell sweet revenge for Nick Saban and the defending champions. The post Alabama vs. Texas A&M: Preview and things to watch appeared first on Midwest Sports Fans.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Clint Trickett retires due to concussions, hid two

Drew Stanton likely out for the year, postseason included

Byron Scott: ‘Idiots’ think Lakers are better team without Kobe

Undrafted QB Connor Shaw to sign with Browns, likely start

Report: Alex Smith out Week 17 with lacerated spleen

Belichick: Garoppolo has better understanding of NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lionel Hollins: 'Honored and blessed to coach Kevin Garnett'

Curt Schilling gives Johnny Manziel advice on Twitter

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

Andre Johnson willing to take pay cut with Texans?

Mets star David Wright reaches out to sons of slain NYPD officer

Video: Rudy Gay tosses half-court alley-oop to McLemore

WATCH: Craig Sager is touched by outpouring of support during leukemia fight

Hiroki Kuroda returns to Japan, ditches Yankees

Kevin Garnett: ‘Very weird’ to see Celtics without Rajon Rondo

Report: New Jersey Devils fire head coach Peter DeBoer

Mark Richt confirms Todd Gurley will leave UGA for NFL

Frank Gore: Colin Kaepernick is 'not broke'

The story of Morgan Bulkeley and birth of National League

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things the world learned about the NBA on Christmas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

College Football News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Five breakout stars in 2014

The 2014 NFL All-Help Offense

Five things learned about NBA on X-Mas

What if Bear Bryant coached in the NFL?

Carmelo Anthony: The Knicks are dying

The last time the Lions won in Green Bay

Year's most notable sports media stories

'Roberto Gronkowski wishes fans Feliz Navidad

Are the Seahawks back on track?

Wright reaches out to slain officer's sons

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.