THE GAME: The University of Alabama football team plays its second game of the 2013 season on Saturday when it heads to College Station, Texas, to take on Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide is making just its second trip to Kyle Field, and first since Dec. 1, 1988. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. (CDT). Verne Lundquist will serve as the play-by-play announcer, with Gary Danielson at his side as the color analyst. The two will be joined by sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson. Eli Gold and Phil Savage will handle the radio call on the Crimson Tide Sports Network, with Chris Stewart serving as sideline reporter.
MAKING HISTORY: Alabama has laid claim to three of the last four BCS National Championships and now boast 15 national championships in the program's history. The Tide won in 2009 and then went back-to-back in 2011 and 2012. The back-to-back titles are the first in the BCS era and the first since Nebraska went back to back in 1994-95. The Cornhuskers are also the last team to win three out of four national titles. Nebraska won consensus titles in 1994 and 1995 and shared the 1997 championship with Michigan. The last team to win three of four consensus national championships was Notre Dame who captured the 1946, 1947 and 1949 titles. Minnesota is the last team to win three straight national championships (1934-36) with only the 1936 title coming in the era of the Associated Press college football poll. The Crimson Tide won three titles in five years from 1961 to 1965.
RANKINGS: Alabama enters week three of the 2013 season ranked first in the Associated Press and USA TODAY Coaches polls, while Texas A&M stands at No. 6 in both polls.
TEXAS A&M: Texas A&M enters today's game with a 2-0 record, having beaten Rice and Sam Houston State by an average of 58.5 points. Last time out, the Aggies accumulated 714 yards of total offense, which tied for the fourth-most in program history. Texas A&M has now recorded 400-plus yards in its last 14 consecutive games. The Aggies are led on offense by sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel, who has thrown for 520 yards and six touchdowns and rushed for another 55 and one touchdown this season. Manziel's top target has been sophomore wide receiver Mike Evans. Evans has 13 receptions thus far, averaging 18.4 yards per catch. The Aggies have five players with double-figure tackles, led by junior defensive back Howard Matthews with 17. As a team, Texas A&M has 18 tackles for loss and four interceptions.
SERIES HISTORY: Alabama holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series with Texas A&M, with last season's meeting in Tuscaloosa going in favor of the Aggies, 29-24. The 2012 matchup was the first between Alabama and Texas A&M since the two teams met in College Station, on Dec. 1, 1988, a game that the Tide would win, 30-10. The first contest in the series was played on Jan. 1, 1942, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Alabama won the meeting, 29-21.
NEXT GAME: Alabama hosts Colorado State in the Crimson Tide's first home game of the 2013 season on Saturday, Sept. 21. The meeting marks the first between the two programs and also the return of former Alabama offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, Jim McElwain, who is in his second season as head coach of the Rams.
ALABAMA DEGREES: Alabama's success on the field over the past six seasons under the direction of head coach Nick Saban has coincided with the Crimson Tide's success in the classroom. The 2013 squad features 13 players that already have degrees in hand as the 2013 season begins (see chart below). That number is equal to Ole Miss for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision in 2013. Over the past five seasons (2008-12) Alabama has seen 74 players compete for the Crimson Tide after already having graduated.
NFL DRAFT: The Crimson Tide saw nine former UA players selected in the 2013 NFL Draft, including first-round picks Dee Milliner (ninth overall to the New York Jets), Chance Warmack (10th overall to the Tennessee Titans) and D.J. Fluker (11th overall to the San Diego Chargers). Eddie Lacy was next to go in the second round as the 61st overall pick to the Green Bay Packers. The Tide had two drafted in the fourth round with Nico Johnson going to the Kansas City Chiefs as the 99th overall pick and Barrett Jones to the St. Louis Rams as the 113th overall pick. Two more Crimson Tide defensive linemen, Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial, were taken in round five. Williams was chosen by the Seattle Seahawks with the fourth pick of round five, No. 137 overall. Dial was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers at No. 157 overall and No. 24 in the fifth round. Rounding out the 2013 NFL draft for Alabama was Michael Williams who went in the seventh round as the 211th overall pick to the Detroit Lions.
LEADING THE WAY TO THE NFL: Alabama has had more draft picks over the last four years (29), three years (22) and two years (17) than any school in the country. In 2013, the Crimson Tide had three players taken back-to-back-to-back in the first round for the first time in the history of the draft with Dee Milliner, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker going at No. 9, 10 and 11. The Tide has had 13 players drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft over the last four years and 11 first-round selections in the last three years. Only Miami had more first round picks during a 3 or 4-year span (UM had 19 from 2001-04 and 15 from 2002-04 in the modern draft era). Alabama had nine total draft picks in 2013, which was a new school record in the seven-round draft (10 in 1945, but that was 30 rounds). The SEC had a record 63 selections, more than double the next conference (ACC with 31).
RETURNING SUCCESS: Alabama returns 13 starters and 48 lettermen from its 2012 squad that won the BCS National Championship, finishing with a record of 13-1. The Crimson Tide returns six starters on offense, including Cyrus Kouandjio, Anthony Steen, AJ McCarron, Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones, while the defense returns seven starters, including Ed Stinson, C.J. Mosley, Adrian Hubbard, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Trey Depriest, Xzavier Dickson and Deion Belue.
ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY: Alabama will be making its 27th (16-10 record) appearance on ESPN's College GameDay when the popular pregame show broadcasts from College Station, Texas, for the top-10 showdown between the Crimson Tide and Aggies. It will mark Alabama's 18th appearance under head coach Nick Saban (14-3). The 18 appearances in the Saban era are four better than Oregon for the most GameDay appearances since the 2007 season. The Crimson Tide was on four times in 2008 against Clemson, Georgia, LSU and Florida. The Tide then made three appearances during the 2009 season against Virginia Tech and Florida in Atlanta and Texas at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. UA hosted GameDay in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 11, 2010 and made another showing four weeks later at South Carolina. In 2011, the Tide was featured on the show three times including twice against LSU (Nov. 5 in Tuscaloosa and Jan. 9 in New Orleans) and once at Auburn in the Iron Bowl (Nov. 26). Last season, the show opened in Arlington, Texas, for Alabama's game vs. Michigan (Sept. 1) and also appeared at LSU (Nov. 3), the SEC Championship game vs. Georgia (Dec. 1) and the BCS National Championship game against Notre Dame (Jan. 7).
NO. 1 FOR SIX STRAIGHT YEARS: Alabama begins the 2013 season in a familiar place atop the Associated Press College Football Poll. It is the sixth straight season for the Crimson Tide to make an appearance at No. 1. The Tide is just the second team in the era of the AP poll to appear at No. 1 for five years, much less six. Alabama's streak began in 2008 and has seen the Crimson Tide finish first in the final AP in three of the past five years. Miami (Fla.) holds the record for consecutive seasons with at least one week at No. 1 with seven, appearing each year from 1986-92.
SUCCESS ON THE ROAD: As successful as Alabama has been at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the Saban era, the Crimson Tide has been almost as effective away from home. Alabama holds a 15-game winning streak away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, which is the longest active streak in the FBS. The 15-game streak includes both true road games and neutral-site games and dates back to a 24-21 loss at LSU on Nov. 6, 2010. The streak also includes victories over Virginia Tech (Atlanta), Notre Dame (Miami Gardens), LSU (Baton Rouge and New Orleans), Michigan (Dallas), at Penn State, at Florida, at Arkansas and at Auburn. The current streak is the second-longest of its kind in Alabama history behind a 19-game streak that began on Sept. 24, 1977, and ended on Nov. 1, 1980. Since 2008, the Crimson Tide is 30-4 (.882) away from Bryant-Denny Stadium, including a 4-1 record in bowl games. During that time, Alabama is 32-3 at Bryant-Denny Stadium (.914).
ALABAMA TIED FOR MOST WINS SINCE 2008: Dating back to the start of the 2008 season, Alabama has won 62 games, which ties for the most in the Football Bowl Subdivision with Boise State. The Crimson Tide won 12 games in 2008, followed by a perfect 14-0 record in 2009, a 10-3 mark in 2010 and a 12-1 record in 2011. Alabama finished 13-1 in 2012 and has won one game thus far in 2013.
NON-OFFENSIVE TOUCHDOWNS: Alabama recorded three non-offensive touchdowns in its season opener against Virginia Tech, marking the first time the Crimson Tide has done so in a game since Sept. 30, 1995, against Georgia. Christion Jones got the Tide on the board first with a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and then went 94 yards on a kickoff return in the second quarter. Vinnie Sunseri scored the first touchdown of his career with a 38-yard interception return. In the 1995 matchup with the Bulldogs, Kevin Jackson had a 26-yard interception return, Deshea Townsend blocked a field goal that led to a 90-yard return and Cedric Samuel recorded a 23-yard fumble return.
WINNING TURNOVER BATTLE RESULTS IN WINS: Alabama has proven tough to beat when winning the turnover battle since the start of the 2008 season. The Crimson Tide is 41-0 in that time when the Tide has fewer turnovers than its opponents. Alabama is 1-0 in 2013 and was 9-0 in 2012, 8-0 in 2011, 6-0 in 2010, 9-0 in 2009 and 8-0 in 2008. The Tide is 50-2 in that same time frame when winning or tied in turnovers. UA lost the 2011 LSU game at home when both teams had two turnovers and the 2010 game at South Carolina with one turnover apiece. Alabama is 12-5 when losing the turnover battle since 2008.
Christion Jones NAMED NATIONAL AND SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Junior wide receiver and return specialist Christion Jones was selected as the Walter Camp National Offensive Player of the Week as well as the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week following his performance against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31. Jones totaled a career- and game-high 256 all-purpose yards with 47 yards on two receptions, 100 yards on four punt returns and 109 yards on two kickoff returns. He also added three touchdowns - one on punt return, one of kickoff return and one receiving.
RUSHING TO SUCCESS: Alabama is 51-0 since the start of the 2008 season when rushing for at least 140 yards. The Tide has averaged 84.57 yards per game (592 yards) in its seven losses since 2008, with the highest rushing total during those losses coming against Florida in the 2008 SEC Championship Game (136).
DEFENSIVE SUCCESS: Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference in total defense for the last five seasons. In the 60 seasons prior no team has led its respective league in total defense for more than two straight years.
10 POINTS OR FEWER: Under head coach Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide has held opponents to 10 points or fewer 41 times since the start of the 2007 season, with its most recent in the 2013 season opener against Virginia Tech. Alabama limited seven of its opponents to 10 points or less in 2012, four of which were shutouts. The Tide was successful in holding opponents in the 0-10 point range in nine games in 2011 and eight times in 2010. Alabama limited opponents to that range seven times in both 2008 and '09, and in 2007, posted two games in which it held opponents to 0-10 points. Alabama has shut out the opposition 10 times during the Saban era.
DEFENSE LOOKING FOR A FIRST: Alabama has led the nation in scoring defense for two straight years, allowing 8.2 points per game in 2011 and 10.9 ppg in 2012. The Crimson Tide is the fifth school to lead the nation in scoring defense in back-to-back years. Tennessee led in 1939 and 1940, Georgia Tech in 1955 and 1956, Michigan in 1971 and 1972 and Oklahoma in 1986 and 1987. No school has led the nation for three straight seasons in scoring defense.
MOSLEY LOOKING TO JOIN ELITE: Alabama senior linebacker C.J. Mosley is one of two SEC players with an opportunity in 2013 to join the 25 from the conference who have been consensus All-Americans more than once. The Crimson Tide features three of the two-time consensus All-Americans with DE Leroy Cook (1974-75), DL Terrence Cody (2008-2009) and OL Barrett Jones (2011-2012). The only player in SEC history to be a consensus All-American three times is Georgia RB Herschel Walker in 1980, 1981 and 1982.
FOUR STRAIGHT: Alabama has led the Southeastern Conference in scoring defense in four consecutive seasons (2009-12). Only one other school has led the SEC in scoring defense for four consecutive seasons -- Auburn from 1986 through 1989 -- and no team has done so for five straight years.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 300: In head coach Nick Saban's 82-game tenure at Alabama, the Crimson Tide has limited opponents to under 300 yards of total offense 53 times, or 64.6 percent of the time.
HOLDING OPPONENTS UNDER 200: During head coach Nick Saban's last 69 games at the Capstone (since the starte of the 2008 season), the Crimson Tide defense has held the opposing offense to fewer than 200 yards of total offense 26 times, including five times last season. In 2011, Alabama accomplished the feat eight times, limiting Kent State to 90 yards and LSU to only 92 yards in the BCS Championship Game (the second and third times a Saban defense has limited its opponent to less than 100 yards of total offense). Alabama's best came in 2009 when the Tide held Chattanooga to 84 yards of total offense. The Tide held opponents under 200 yards three times in 2010, four times in 2009 and six times in 2008.
DEFENSIVE RANKINGS: The Crimson Tide defense was No. 1 in all five major defensive categories in 2011 and held that ranking in three categories during the 2012 season. Alabama finished as the nation's top total defense (250 ypg), scoring defense (10.93 ppg) and rushing defense (76.36 ypg). The Crimson Tide finished seventh nationally in passing defense (173.64 ypg) and seventh in passing efficiency defense (103.72). The Tide also led the nation in fewest first downs allowed per game (13.71).
NO. 1 AGAINST THE RUSH: Alabama has led the nation in each of the past two seasons in rushing defense. The Crimson Tide is the eighth school with a two-year streak. The Tide gave up 76.4 yards per game on the ground in 2012 and 72.2 yards per in 2011. No team has led the nation in rushing defense for three straight seasons. Alabama also finished second in rushing defense in 2008 (74.1 ypg) and 2009 (78.14 ypg). UA was 10th in 2010.
TOUGH SLEDDING ON THE GROUND: Alabama leads the nation in giving up the fewest rushing touchdowns since the start of the 2005 season, surrendering only 61. Since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007, the Crimson Tide has allowed 43 rushing touchdowns while Ohio State is second (54). Alabama has surrendered one rushing touchdown thus far in 2013.
RUSHING DEFENSE: Limiting opposing running backs to fewer than 100 yards is nothing new for the Crimson Tide. Alabama has surrendered only 13 individual 100-yard rushing games dating back to the 2005 season, a mark that leads the nation. Since head coach Nick Saban's arrival, the Tide has allowed only eight players to rush for more than 100 yards in a game: Virginia Tech's Trey Edmunds (132 on Aug. 31, 2013), Georgia's Todd Gurley (122 yards on Dec. 1, 2012), LSU's Jeremy Hill (107 on Nov. 3, 2012), Georgia Southern's Dominique Swope (153 on Nov. 19, 2011), Tennessee's Tauren Poole (117 on Oct. 23, 2010), Mississippi's BenJarvus Green-Ellis (131 on Oct. 13, 2007), Houston's Anthony Alridge (100 on Oct. 6, 2007) and Darren McFadden of Arkansas (195 on Sept. 15, 2007).
YARDS HARD TO COME BY: Since the 2011 Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, the Alabama defense has not surrendered yards easily. Over that 29-game span, the Tide defense has allowed only five opposing teams to reach 300 total yards: 341 by Georgia Southern in 2011, 435 by LSU, 418 by Texas A&M, 394 by Georgia in 2012 and 302 by Notre Dame in 2012 (Jan. 7, 2013). Teams have been held under 200 total yards 14 times and below 100 total yards twice. Rushing against the Tide has been even more difficult over that span, as teams have been held to under 100 rushing yards 22 times, under 50 yards 12 times and in negative yardage twice.
HARD TO RUN THE BALL: All five of the teams who have beat Alabama since the start of the 2009 have topped the 100-yard mark in rushing. That may not sound like much, but from 2009-12 the Crimson Tide allowed opponents to rush for an average of 83.9 yards per game over those 54 contests and that number was below 79 yards per game in three of those four seasons. In that four-year span, the Crimson Tide defense held its opponents below 100 yards rushing in 37 of 54 games (68.5 percent). Alabama held 11 teams below 100 yards rushing in 2009, 10 in 2011 and 11 in 2012.
HUBBARD BECOMING PASS RUSHING THREAT: Outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard developed into one of the Crimson Tide's top pass rushing threats in 2012. He led the team with 11 tackles for loss (-54 yards) and seven sacks (-44 yards). Hubbard was seventh on the team with 41 total tackles while adding four quarterback hurries and a team-best three forced fumbles. Hubbard closed the season with a sack in each of the final three games for the Tide. He ranked tied for eighth in the SEC (.50 sacks per game) and tied for 73rd nationally.
BALANCED ATTACK: Alabama has fielded one of the most balanced offenses in the nation over the past four years. That trend continued in 2012, as the Crimson Tide gained 3,185 yards rushing and 3,052 yards passing, a difference of only 133 yards. Since the 2009 season, Alabama has passed for 11,985 while rushing for 11,458, a difference of only 527 yards.
SCORING STREAK CONTINUES: With Christion Jones' 72-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, Alabama has scored in 157 consecutive games - the longest streak in program history.
2012 TIDE SET SCORING MARK: The 2012 Alabama offense set a program record for points scored (542) and offensive touchdowns (68), doing so in 14 games. The Crimson Tide surpassed the 1973 team, which scored 477 points and 61 offensive touchdowns. With 6,237 yards of total offense, the 2012 team also set the school record for total offense (was 5,773 yards in 2010). The Crimson Tide's 445.5 yards of total offense per game is the second-best in school history, while the 31 passing touchdowns is the most all-time and the 37 rushing touchdowns are sixth. Alabama averaged 6.95 yards per play in 2012, good for second in the school record book. COOPER HAD STELLAR FRESHMAN YEAR: Wide receiver Amari Cooper turned in a fantastic freshman season, breaking Julio Jones' (2008) freshman receiving records. Cooper finished with 59 catches (Jones has 58 in 2008) for 1,000 yards (Jones has 924 yards in 2008) and 11 touchdowns (a school record). The 11 receiving touchdowns broke Al Lary's school record of 10 set in 1950. Cooper's 59 catches in 2012 rank sixth in school history while his 1,000 yards is tied for the fourth-best season in program history.
1,000 & COUNTING: Alabama wide receiver Amari Cooper set a freshman record with 1,000 receiving yards in 2012. Now in his sophomore year, Cooper is looking to join D.J. Hall (2006 and 2007) as the only players in Alabama history to have multiple 1,000 yard receiving seasons. The only other Alabama players with 1,000-yard receiving seasons are David Palmer in 1993 and Julio Jones in 2010.
McCARRON SET SEASON TD PASS MARK: AJ McCarron's 30 touchdown passes in 2012 set an Alabama season record. He tossed a 29-yard strike to Christion Jones against Western Carolina on Nov. 17 to surpass Greg McElroy's 20 in 2010. McElroy's mark was set in 13 games that season; McCarron moved past it in 11 games. He threw four touchdown passes in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game to post his total of 30, which ranked third in the SEC in 2012.
THE MAKINGS OF A WINNER: In his third year as Alabama's quarterback, AJ McCarron has built a 26-2 record as a starter and led his team to back-to-back BCS National Championships. He has thrown 50 touchdown passes in his career against just nine interceptions, which averages out to one interception every 79.2 attempts, the best in SEC history by more than 17 attempts (Tim Tebow - 1:62.2). In 2012, McCarron threw 30 touchdown passes while tossing only three interceptions (one every 104.7 attempts) and led the nation in passing efficiency at 175.28. He is the first quarterback in Alabama history to lead his team to two national titles.
IN RARE AIR: Crimson Tide signal-caller AJ McCarron enters his senior season with the best interception ratio (attempts to interceptions) in NCAA major-college football history among QBs with at least 600 pass attempts. The Mobile native has tossed just nine interceptions in 713 attempts for a ratio of one pick every 79.2 attempts. The NCAA record is one interception every 77.8 passes, set by Fresno State's Billy Volek from 1997 through 1999 (12 interceptions in 934 passes). McCarron also has the lowest interception ratio of any SEC player with at least 200 passes with Florida's Tim Tebow in second place at one interception every 62.2 passes (2006-2009). Last season, McCarron set an SEC record for the lowest interception ratio in a single season (with at least 160 attempts) with three in 314 passes -- one in every 104.7.
A NUMBER TO NOTE: Alabama senior quarterback AJ McCarron has as many BCS National Championship Game victories (2) as he does career loses as the Tide's starting quarterback. McCarron boasts a 26-2 career record for a .929 winning percentage, which is the second best in school and SEC history.
QUARTERBACK WINS: AJ McCarron has 26 career wins and a .929 winning percentage at Alabama. He currently ranks second in winning percentage at The University of Alabama and second in Southeastern Conference history. Only Jay Barker's .934 winning percentage betters McCarron. Barker is also the school's leader in career victories with 35 (35-1-1 record). McCarron is tied for fourth in career victories with Pat Trammell 26 and is four wins back of Harry Gilmer in third (30). In SEC history, Florida's Danny Wuerffel is third in winning percentage at .903 (32-3-1) and Georgia's Buck Belue is fourth at .900 (27-3).
BACK-TO-BACK QUARTERBACKS: AJ McCarron led Alabama to back-to-back BCS National Championships, becoming just the sixth quarterback to do so in the modern era of college football. The winners of back-to-back titles include: Notre Dame's Johnny Lujack (1946-47), Nebraska's Jerry Tagge (1970-71), Oklahoma's Steve Davis (1974-75), Nebraska's Tommy Frazier (1994-95) and Southern California's Matt Leinart (2003-04). No player has ever led his team to three straight national championships, although Lujack did lead the Fighting Irish to three titles in his career (1943, 1946 and 1947).
EFFICIENT IN PASSING GAME: AJ McCarron finished the 2012 season ranked No. 1 nationally in passing efficiency with a 175.28 mark. He is the first Alabama player to lead the nation in passing efficiency. He tossed 30 touchdowns with only three interceptions (314 pass attempts) in 2012, completing 67.2 percent of his passes for 2,933 yards.
PASSING EFFICIENCY: AJ McCarron became the sixth quarterback in SEC history to lead the nation in passing efficiency last season. In 2013, he will have the opportunity to become the fifth player to lead the nation in passing efficiency twice. McCarron had a rating of 175.28 in 2012, which is based on completion, touchdown and interception percentages and yards per attempt. Other SEC QBs who have led the nation in passing efficiency include Alabama's Steve Sloan, 153.8 in 1965; Tennessee's Dewey Warren, 142.2 in 1966; Florida's Danny Wuerffel, 178.4 in 1995; Florida's Rex Grossman, 170.8 in 2001; and Florida's Tim Tebow, 164.2 in 2009. The two-time national leaders are Nebraska's Jerry Tagge in 1970 and 1971, BYU's Jim McMahon in 1980 and 1981, Michigan's Elvis Grbac in 1991 and 1992, and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford in 2007 and 2008. To qualify, players had to average at least 11 passes per game through the 1964 season and 15 passes per game since 1965.
RUSHING INCREASE: Alabama has increased its average yards per rush for six consecutive seasons. In 2006, the season before head coach Nick Saban arrived at The Capstone, Alabama averaged 3.5 yards per carry. Under Saban, that increased to 4.0 in 2007, 4.6 in 2008, 5.0 in 2009, 5.1 in 2010, 5.5 in 2011 and 5.6 in 2012. The school record for average yards per rushing attempt in a season is 6.1 set in 1973.
YELDON SHINES IN DEBUT SEASON: Running back T.J. Yeldon finished second on the team and sixth in the SEC with 1,108 yards rushing on 175 carries and 12 touchdowns. Yeldon became the first Alabama true freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season and the first to rush for more than 100 yards in his debut, in a win over Michigan, finishing with 111 yards and one rushing touchdown. Yeldon gained 144 yards at Missouri and followed that with 129 at Tennessee. In the postseason, Yeldon went for 153 yards and a score against Georgia in the SEC title game and then 108 yards and a touchdown vs. Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game. He is the seventh Alabama running back to crack the century mark since head coach Nick Saban arrived in 2007. Mark Ingram was the previous true freshman to gain at least 95 yards in his debut, running for 96 against Clemson in the 2008 season opener.
BALL PROTECTION: In its past 69 games, the Tide has turned the ball over only 73 times (42 fumbles, 31 interceptions) for 1.06 turnovers per game, better than Ohio State's second-best 1.24 (82 turnovers, 66 games). Since 2009, that mark is even better as the Tide has turned the ball over only 54 times in 55 games (0.98/gm). Since 2009, UA starting quarterbacks have thrown an impressively low 18 interceptions in 1,314 attempts (one INT every 73.0 attempts). Dating back to the 2009 season, the top two running backs in the rotation have lost a fumble only seven times. Over that 69-game span, the Tide's top two running backs have recorded 1,471 touches - better than 200 touches (210.1) per lost fumble.
THRICE AS NICE FOR JONES: According to the Alabama record books dating back to 1944, Christion Jones is the first player to score two returns/non-offensive touchdowns in one game. Jones had a 72-yard punt return in the first quarter against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31, and a 94-yard kickoff return in the second quarter. Jones then added on a 38-yard reception for a touchdown in the third quarter, becoming the first major college football player to score a touchdown on a punt return, kickoff return and pass reception in the same game since Kentucky's Derek Abney in 2002.
MANDELL SETS SCHOOL RECORD: Punter Cody Mandell had his finest season for the Tide in 2012, averaging 44.3 yards per punt on 50 attempts to set a school record for punting average for a minimum of 50 attempts. He placed 19 of 50 punts inside the 20-yard line and had 14 punts of 50-plus yards, including a season-long 61-yarder against Mississippi State and a 60-yarder against Texas A&M.
THREE RINGS: Alabama has seven fifth-year seniors on the roster in 2013 and all are in possession of national championship rings from the 2009, 2011 and 2012 seasons. These seven players - AJ McCarron, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick, Anthony Steen, Ed Stinson and Kellen Williams - all redshirted during the 2009 season as the Tide captured the school's 13th national championship at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. This group of seniors then helped secure Alabama's 2011 and 2012 national championships.
SABAN MOVING UP SEC WINS LIST: Alabama head coach Nick Saban is quickly moving up the charts for victories in SEC regular-season games with 71. He is joined in seventh place, two wins ahead of current Georgia head coach Mark Richt (69) on the league's list of conference wins. Each coach ahead of them on the list, except for South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier, is in the College Football Hall of Fame. Paul "Bear" Bryant tops the list with 159 conference wins at Kentucky (1946-53) and Alabama (1958-82). Spurrier is second with 122 league wins followed by John Vaught (Ole Miss, 106), Vince Dooley (Georgia, 105), Ralph "Shug" Jordan (Auburn, 98) and Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee, 98).
10-WIN SEASONS: Alabama reached the 10-win milestone for the fifth consecutive season in 2012, boasting a 13-1 record. In 117 seasons, the Tide has won 10 or more games 32 times, two back of Oklahoma (34) for the most 10-win seasons in college football. Alabama has produced seven 10-win seasons since the 2002 season (2002, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012). Tide head coach Nick Saban is the 11th coach in school history to lead his team to a 10-win season and is the fifth coach in school history to have more than one 10-win season.
54 NATIONAL TV APPEARANCES IN 69 GAMES: Alabama's appearance on CBS on Saturday is the 54th nationally televised game since the start of the 2008 season for the Crimson Tide. The Tide played 12 nationally televised games in 2012, with one game on ABC, six on CBS and five on ESPN. In 2011, Alabama played on CBS four times, while having one game on ABC, two on ESPN and ESPN2, and one game on ESPNU. In 2010, Alabama had five games on CBS, three on ESPN, two on ESPN2, one on ABC and one on ESPNU. In 2009, UA played two games on ABC (including the BCS title game), and six on CBS, while ESPN televised two more Crimson Tide games. In 2008, Alabama had 10 of its 14 games televised nationally, including five on CBS, three on ESPN, one on ABC and one on FOX.
TIDE 63-3 UNDER SABAN WHEN LEADING AT THE HALF: The Crimson Tide is 63-3 when leading at halftime under head coach Nick Saban. Alabama had converted 28 consecutive halftime leads into victories before seeing that streak snapped in 2010 against LSU. The first two losses in the current 63-3 run (when leading at the break) came against LSU, followed by a defeat to Auburn in 2010. In 2007, Alabama held a 20-17 halftime lead before losing to LSU, 41-34, in 2007 at Bryant-Denny Stadium. In 2010, the Tide led 10-3 at the half before the Tigers rallied for a 24-20 win in Death Valley. Alabama lost 28-27 to Auburn to close out the 2010 season, after leading 24-7 at the half. The Crimson Tide is 3-6 under Saban when trailing at halftime and 3-3 when tied at halftime. The three wins in the Saban era when trailing at the half: 34-24 over No. 7 Virginia Tech in 2009 (in Atlanta); a 24-15 over No. 9 LSU in 2009; and 24-20 at Arkansas in 2010. And Alabama's three wins under Saban when tied at halftime: at LSU in 2008, (27-21), at Auburn in 2009 (26-21) and against Tennessee in 2011 (37-6). ALABAMA'S TV RECORD: Alabama has compiled a 204-127-4 (.615) all-time record in 335 televised games (not including pay-per-view, tape-delayed or closed circuit telecasts).
OVERTIME RECORD: Alabama is 4-8 (.333) all-time in overtime games. In its last overtime game, the Crimson Tide lost to LSU, 9-6, at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Nov. 5, 2011. Alabama has lost seven of its last 10 overtime games. The Crimson Tide is 4-7 (.363) in overtime games against SEC teams. Alabama is 2-5 (.286) in overtime home games. The Crimson Tide is 3-5 (.375) in single-overtime games.
NEW HIRES: Nick Saban made four new additions to his coaching staff following the 2012 season. Taking over the coaching duties for the secondary is longtime coach Greg Brown, who came to the Tide after serving as the defensive coordinator at Colorado. Mario Cristobal joined the Alabama staff as the offensive line coach after serving as the head coach at Florida International University since 2007. Billy Napier returned to the Alabama coaching staff as wide receivers coach. Napier joined the Crimson Tide staff after serving as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at Colorado State in 2012 for former Tide offensive coordinator Jim McElwain. Kevin Steele returned to Alabama as the Crimson Tide's director of player personnel in February of 2013. Steele, who spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons on head coach Nick Saban's defensive staff at Alabama, is back at the Capstone following three years as Clemson's defensive coordinator (2009-11).
TOP AIDES: The Alabama coaching staff has been ranked No. 1 in the Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com Top 10 Football Coaching Staffs list the last two seasons and the 2013 group is following suit. The Crimson Tide's leadership on the sidelines and in the booth has a wealth of knowledge across all levels of football. The nine-man staff features two former head coaches at the Bowl Subdivision level in Bobby Williams (Michigan State) and Mario Cristobal (FIU). The staff also has four coaches that have spent time as assistant coaches in the NFL in Greg Brown (Bucs, Falcons, Chargers, 49ers and Saints), Doug Nussmeier (Rams), Kirby Smart (Dolphins) and Bobby Williams (Lions and Dolphins).
CRIMSON TIDE PLAYERS ON NFL ROSTERS: The Alabama football program is well represented in the NFL as it starts the 2013 season with former players dotting league rosters. The Tide has 35 former players working in the NFL this season. In the last five NFL Drafts, Alabama has had 33 players selected, including 14 players in first round, four in the second and third rounds, two in the fourth, four in the fifth and five in the seventh round.
THE ALABAMA-TEXAS A&M SERIES: Alabama leads the series with Texas A&M by a 3-2 margin, dating back to the first meeting in the 1942 Cotton Bowl (following the 1941 season). The first two meetings between the Crimson Tide and Aggies were in Cotton Bowl games. Alabama won the first meeting, 29-21, in the 1942 Cotton Bowl to secure a piece of the 1941 national championship. The Aggies won the 1968 Cotton Bowl, 20-16, to even the series. Alabama then swept a home-and-home series, winning 23-10 in Birmingham in 1985 and 30-10 in College Station in 1988. In last season's meeting, Texas A&M came out blazing and used an early lead to win the game, 29-24.
ALABAMA-TEXAS A&M CONNECTIONS: The Alabama football team has many connections back to Texas A&M. Most of those relationships were formed via former Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's coaching stints at both schools. Two of Bryant's protégés have served as head coach at A&M: Gene Stallings and Jackie Sherrill. Bryant and Stallings are the most notable connection between the two programs. Stallings played for Bryant at A&M before serving as an assistant coach at Alabama from 1958-64. He returned to Tuscaloosa as head coach from 1990-96, and has remained active with both institutions since his retirement from coaching. Sherrill played for Bryant at Alabama from 1963-65 and served as head coach at A&M from 1982-88. Both Stallings and Sherrill coached against the Crimson Tide as A&M head coach, with Stallings and the Aggies winning the 1968 Cotton Bowl against Bryant and Sherrill leading the Aggies against Alabama in 1985 and 1988. There are numerous other connections as well: John David Crow was the 1957 Heisman Trophy winner and an assistant coach at Alabama from 1969-71 ... Curly Hallman, a native of Northport, Ala., played at A&M for head coach Gene Stallings and starred as defensive back from 1966-68 before returning to Alabama as an assistant from 1973-76 and 1996-97 ... Bobby Drake Keith played for Bryant at A&M and was an assistant coach at Alabama in 1958-59 ... Elwood Kettler was a quarterback on Bryant's first A&M team in 1954 and was an assistant at Alabama in 1960 ... Bobby Marks played for Bryant at A&M and was later a part of his Alabama staff from 1972-82 ... Dee Powell played for Bryant at A&M and served 20 years as an assistant coach at Alabama in 1958 and 1964-82 ... Dennis Franchione was the head coach at both schools, coaching the Crimson Tide in 2001-02 before taking over as head coach at A&M from 2003-07 ... Doug Walker, Alabama's Associate Athletics Director for Communications, is a 1988 A&M graduate and also worked in the Aggies' Sports Information Office early in his career ... Amy Bragg, who serves as the Crimson Tide Director of Performance Nutrition, came from Texas A&M prior to the 2010 season.
BRYANT AT TEXAS A&M: Before he became a national icon, legendary Alabama head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant earned a national reputation as an outstanding coach via a remarkable turnaround of the Texas A&M program as head coach from 1954-57, where he compiled a 25-14-2 overall record and won a Southwest Conference championship. Bryant took a struggling Aggie program from a 1-9 record in 1954 to a 7-2-1 mark in 1955 (the best single-season turnaround in A&M history), a 9-0-1 SWC championship season in 1956 and an 8-3 mark in 1957. A&M was ranked No. 1 in the nation for three weeks during the 1957 season - the last time that A&M has achieved that lofty status. Bryant accepted the Alabama job near the end of the 1957 season, returning to Tuscaloosa where he created an unparalleled standard of excellence while leading the Crimson Tide to six national titles and 13 SEC championships. The only Heisman Trophy winner that Bryant coached, John David Crow, played for him at A&M before serving as an assistant coach at Alabama. Crow later served as Athletics Director at A&M.
ALABAMA VS. A&M AT VARIOUS SITES: The Alabama-Texas A&M series has been played at four different sites and returns to College Station for the first time since 1988. Since the initial meeting in the 1942 Cotton Bowl in Dallas, the Crimson Tide faced the Aggies in the 1968 Cotton Bowl and then played A&M in Birmingham in 1985 and Tuscaloosa in 2012.