Alabama Crimson Tide still alive in the SEC West

Saturday’s win over Texas A&M keeps the Alabama Crimson Tide in the hunt for a divisional title.
NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama

Oct 18, 2014; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Joe Pannunzio director of football congratulates Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Landon Collins (26) after a play during the game against the Texas A&M Aggies at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide defeated the Aggies 59-0.  (Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

(C+P) — There were many questions surrounding Alabama’s team after a loss to Ole Miss and a one-point victory against Arkansas. However, all of those questions disappeared after a 59-0 thrashing of Texas A&M Saturday. The victory showed that Alabama is still a legitimate contender to win the SEC West.

Blake Sims rebounded well following two lackluster performances. The senior lit up the Aggies’ defense completing 16 of his 27 passes for 268 yards and three touchdowns. He needs to continue playing like this as the Crimson Tide have three ranked teams left on the schedule, including No.1 Mississippi State.

Sims should be able to sustain this level of play due to wide out Amari Cooper. Cooper is arguably the nation’s best receiver and a Heisman candidate. His 908 yards account for 45 percent of Alabama’s total receiving yards. He put his skills on display against the Aggies catching eight passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.

NCAA Football: Texas A&M at Alabama
Alabama Crimson Tide running back T.J. Yeldon (4) carries the ball against the Texas A&M Aggies (Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

The Crimson Tide rushing attack had its usual success Saturday racking up 298 yards, and four touchdowns on 45 carries. TJ Yeldon led the way eclipsing the 100-yard mark for the third time this season. Derrick Henry helped as well running the ball 10 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. These two have combined for more than 1,000 yards and average 5.27 yards per carry.

The success of the running game is crucial to Alabama’s success. Against Ole Miss and Arkansas, they rushed for less than 170 yards and averaged less than 4 yards per carry. After their dominant performance against Texas A&M, the Crimson Tide running backs appear to be back on track.

 

Also, Alabama’s defense played remarkably against the Aggies keeping them off the scoreboard. They only allowed 172 yards of offense, holding an opponent to under 200 yards for the second time this season. This is something they struggled to do in tight games. In the three games decided by 10 points or less this season, they gave up more than 300 yards. It is crucial they keep opponents under this mark if they want to limit the number of close games they are in.

Alabama won the turnover margin for only the second time this season in their victory against Texas A&M. This has been one of their biggest weaknesses all season, and much of it results from fumbling the ball. The Crimson Tide have eight fumbles on the season which ranks 108th for fewest fumbles lost. They must correct these issues as they head into a tough part of their schedule.

Three of the final five games on Alabama’s schedule feature ranked opponents. Two of those matchups are against Auburn and Mississippi State, who are both ranked in the top five. These are must-win games if Alabama wants to stay in contention for a conference title.

Next up for the Crimson Tide is the Tennessee Volunteers, who are coming off a 31-point loss to Ole Miss. Alabama will be looking to repeat last week’s performance and take another step toward winning the SEC West.

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