The routine is becoming all too familiar for SEC opponents.
Freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts does damage with his legs. The Alabama defense shuts down the opposing running game. And, somehow, someone on the Crimson Tide defense or special teams scores a touchdown.
Yet again, No. 1 Alabama followed the script on Saturday, beating a top-10 opponent for the second week in a row. This time, the Crimson Tide beat No. 6 Texas A&M 33-14 in Tuscaloosa, moving to 8-0 while dealing the Aggies (6-1) their first loss of the season. It wasn't quite the display of overwhelming dominance that Alabama showed in last week's 49-0 rout of Tennessee, but it was another opportunity for the defending national champions to assert their superiority in the SEC. Despite a few miscues and missed opportunities, Alabama took full advantage of the situation.
Alabama wasted a couple red-zone opportunities, settling for two field goals and missing another, but its defense controlled the game early. While Texas A&M actually took a 14-13 lead with 12:54 left in the third quarter, it didn't last long and the Aggies didn't score again.
Hurts led a 77-yard drive to answer, capped by a four-yard pass to Calvin Ridley. Then, for the 10th game in a row, Alabama scored a non-offensive touchdown. The ball was stripped from Aggies RB Keith Ford, and DE Jonathan Allen picked it up and ran 30 yards for a touchdown -- his second score of the season.
Jonathan Allen FAT GUY TOUCHDOWN!! pic.twitter.com/WZMxxfTp1m- Jack McGuire (@BigDaddysCourt) October 22, 2016
Alabama has scored at least one defensive or special teams touchdown in every game since last year's Cotton Bowl, and it now has 12 non-offensive TDs in eight games this season.
The Crimson Tide further padded their lead in the fourth quarter, when Hurts took off running, made Aggies defenders miss, picked up a few blocks and ran 37 yards for a touchdown. Hurts ran 21 times for 93 yards and a TD and threw for 164 yards, two TDs and two picks, and as a team Alabama out-gained Texas A&M 451 to 278.
Alabama's defense hit hard all game, with one big helmet-to-helmet Mack Wilson hit on Speedy Noil on a kick return going uncalled. Meanwhile, Texas A&M played much of the game without one of its stars, as safety Donovan Wilson was ejected for targeting after a hit on Alabama RB Damien Harris following an interception thrown by Hurts. Harris ended up rushing for 128 yards.
Unfortunately, the win did come at a cost for Alabama, as All-American safety and return man Eddie Jackson -- who passed up a chance to go pro after last season -- fractured his leg during the game, effectively ending his college career, coach Nick Saban said afterward.
Alabama will have a week off before the Nov. 5 showdown at LSU, while the Aggies' playoff hopes need a lot of help now, making their most attainable goal a New Year's Six bowl game. Each of the past two years, Alabama has had to recover from an SEC West loss and stage a comeback in November to win the SEC and reach the playoff. This time, there is no doubt about who the frontrunner is, both in the conference and nationally. Alabama has removed any possible doubt.