Perhaps we'll learn someday. Maybe we'll figure out that the obvious trap games, the ones that Nick Saban's Alabama teams "should" lose, are rarely the ones that the Crimson Tide actually end up losing. And so, just like with Georgia a couple of weeks ago, Alabama came into the game this weekend against Texas A&M hearing that the Aggies might just be the latest game to upset the reigning SEC champions -- only to watch the Tide walk out with a relatively easy 41-23 win.
How easy? After Alabama quickly established a two-touchdown lead in the first quarter, they led by at least 10 points for all but roughly two-and-a-half minutes of the game. The closest Texas A&M ever came to tying things was around the 10-minute mark in the third quarter, when the Aggies cut the lead to 28-20 on a quick touchdown drive, then blocked Alabama's punt on the following possession. But A&M promptly went backwards, losing five yards on a third-down sack, and ended up settling for a field goal attempt that was missed. The Tide then put together a successful field goal, and A&M never truly threatened Alabama after that.
Alabama stuck to their normal formula for these kinds of wins -- a stout running game and a superb defensive effort. The Tide ran for 258 yards on 45 carries; Derrick Henry ran the ball 32 times for a Leonard Fournette-esque 236 yards and two touchdowns. Texas A&M's potent offense was limited to 316 yards on 70 offensive snaps. The Aggies averaged 1.3 yards a play on the ground, and Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray combined to go 22-of-44 passing for 284 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions.
And in that last number is where Texas A&M had a hand in its own demise. Kyle Allen threw three back-breaking pick-sixes in this game, two of them to Minkah Fitzpatrick. The 21 points off those turnovers alone were more than enough to account for the margin of this game, though of course we can't know with any certainty what would have happened had those interceptions not been thrown.
The loss doesn't knock Texas A&M out of the race for the SEC West, though it certainly puts them in a whole. The Aggies have yet to face LSU or Ole Miss, though the latter of those games looks less intimidating now than it once did, and no longer controls its own destiny. (For that matter, neither does Alabama yet.) It's perhaps not time to dig up the "2014 deja vu" jokes again, but there's no room for another loss if A&M wants to remain alive.
For Alabama, most of the games that seem the most threatening are now over. Tennessee comes to Tuscaloosa next week, followed by the most dangerous match-up left on the schedule: LSU. Get through that one, and the Tide have to feel pretty good about their chances. The problem with that is the flip side of Saturday's game: When Alabama looks most invincible is sometimes when it's most vulnerable.