No. 6 Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama line, game pick: SEC West supremacy on the line

Perhaps Texas A&M's road trip to Alabama will be the game of the year in the SEC -- if not all of college football.

Perhaps it will be a dud if Vegas turns out to be correct.

But you're not going to find many games with more hype than the one featuring the Aggies and Tide in Tuscaloosa with the College Football Playoff race heating up. Both teams are undefeated and carry lofty rankings heading into Saturday's matchup. With SEC West, SEC and playoff implications on the line, this is a high stakes game with plenty of storylines.

There might just be an abundance of points, too. Just maybe.

Texas A&M storyline: All the talk in the SEC (and nationally) has been about how dominant Alabama has been, which means A&M wants to shock the world like it did in 2012 when it stunned the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Of course, these are different teams now, but the Aggies have the weapons to present matchup problems. They have the receivers to get open downfield and a quarterback, Trevor Knight, capable of making plays as a runner beyond the line of scrimmage.

Oh, and they have a defense now -- Sumlin's first great one in College Station. Defensive end Myles Garrett has been nursing an ankle injury, but the bye week came at the best possible time. This is an athletic, disruptive defensive front for A&M. The extra time to prepare gives this unit, along with the rest of the team, an edge. If the Aggies are going to make an SEC and playoff run, this is the game to get it started.

Alabama storyline: Keep trucking along, I guess? You can't ask for much more when Alabama beats Tennessee 49-10 -- which, by the way, was only the worst loss for the Vols in that series in more than a century. The emergence of true freshman quarterback Jalen Hurts has been the big story, however, as he's given this offense an extra dimension it has never had under coach Nick Saban, not even when Blake Sims was the quarterback two years ago.

One thing Saban doesn't get enough credit for is evolving. For one, he's placed a greater emphasis on pass rush (Alabama leads the SEC with 27 sacks). Second, he's fighting RPO (run-pass option) fire with RPO fire by starting Hurts and handing the keys to the offense to Lane Kiffin. Saban has gone from asking " Is this what we want football to be?" to actually being it. What would have bothered the Tide three or four years ago against the likes of A&M or Auburn has been matched, if not improved upon. What this means is Alabama is actually fun to watch.

Game pick: Texas A&M +17.5. What a line. This is the No. 6 team in the country we're talking about here. Playing this game in Tuscaloosa is worth a few points, but you have to wonder if Vegas thinks Alabama will get an extra quick score off of a turnover or on special teams. After all, the Crimson Tide has 11 non-offensive touchdowns, which equals the number of touchdowns the defense has allowed. In all, seven different starters on defense have scored.

Knight obviously has a good history against Alabama from his days at Oklahoma, but he also has a history of inconsistency, and it would seem Vegas believes (barring an unknown injury) this is a bad matchup for him. Still, A&M can score in plenty and has the weapons to exploit Alabama's weakness of giving up explosive plays of 20-plus yards through the air.

Texas A&M at Alabama, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Alabama -17.5

For full Week 8 picks against the spread, check out our Expert Picks page.

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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