By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
HOUSTON — The last blockbuster of the summer is set in Texas.
No. 1 Alabama vs. No. 6 Texas A&M. Johnny Football trying to derail the Crimson Tide dynasty. Who is the hero and who is the villain depends upon your perspective. And, of course, it’s a sequel.
The Tide (1-0) and Aggies (2-0) meet Saturday in the most anticipated and talked-about game of the season.
Just how big is this game, Tide coach Nick Saban?
“Obviously this is an exciting game for our team, the players in our program,” Saban said.
OK, so Saban isn’t much for hype, but there’s no doubt this is huge.
Looking online for a last-minute ticket to Kyle Field? Be prepared to shell out $700, give or take a hundred. A hotel room in town? Better have a plan B. Most of the space was booked not long after the Aggies upset Alabama 29-24 last November in Tuscaloosa. Texas A&M was expecting a crowd of around 50,000 at the stadium for midnight yell practice Friday night, the Aggies’ unique version of a pep rally, which will be televised by ESPN.
Last year’s victory propelled A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel to the Heisman Trophy. For the Tide, the loss was a detour on the way to a second straight national championship. Saban’s team is trying to become the first to win three straight titles. The Aggies have championship aspirations, too.
In a couple of tuneup games leading into Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener for both teams, Manziel has looked better than ever (six TD passes and 520 yards), showing no signs that an offseason in the spotlight has had any adverse effects on his game.
Alabama’s only game was a 35-10 victory against Virginia Tech that — by Tide standards — was almost a letdown.