Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen will play in the biggest game of his career on Saturday. The Aggies host Alabama at Kyle Field in the SEC Game of the Week on CBS.
Allen has started in every game for A&M since replacing Kenny Hill last October. In 2015, the sophomore has the second-most touchdowns among SEC quarterbacks and fifth-most passing yards, trailing four passers who — unlike the Aggies — haven’t had a bye week.
Even before arriving at College Station, Allen faced high expectations. He was a five-star prospect and the No. 1 pro-style quarterback for the 2014 recruiting class.
His quick success shouldn’t come as a surprise given his skill and fortune of having one of college football’s most talented receiving groups — which also includes three former five-star prospects in Christian Kirk, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones.
But even with his dominance through his first full-year as a starter, is it too soon to be talking about his legacy? Saturday’s game will have major implications on how Allen will be remembered by the A&M faithful.
Despite the Aggies entering at No. 9 overall — one spot higher than their opponent — holding an undefeated record and playing at Kyle Field — the SEC’s largest capacity stadium — Alabama still enters as a four-point favorite. The Tide’s only loss — a shootout against Ole Miss where every bounced seemed to go the Rebels’ way — has become a forgotten blemish and it seems that we’re at the point of the season when Alabama avenges its lone loss by running the table in dominant form.
So naturally, a win for Texas A&M would be huge. It wouldn’t just legitimize the team as a national contender but also Allen as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks.
Just ask Johnny Manziel what an upset against Alabama can do for a quarterback’s legacy. “Johnny Football” became a nationally recognized moniker after the then-redshirt freshman led the Aggies to a 29-24 win in Tuscaloosa. Even though it wasn’t his best performance statistically, it played a major role in his successful Heisman Trophy campaign in 2012.
Manzeil became the most polarizing figure in college football and Texas A&M history. That legacy awaits Allen if he too can upset Alabama, especially after last season’s 59-0 loss in Tuscaloosa.
“It felt like we were a high school team playing a college team, quite honestly,” Allen told reporters earlier this week. “It’s not a feeling we ever want to feel again. I know for coach [Kevin] Sumlin especially, that’s a feeling of embarrassment.”
But the young quarterback isn’t dwelling on the past, rather, showing the confidence necessary to match Alabama’s defense on Saturday.
“We’re very excited — we know this offense can work against any defense,” Allen told the Dallas Morning News. “We just need to produce, be ready and study film and prepare during the week. We’re doing a good job of that.”
Texas A&M has a chance to make its mark as the top team in the SEC West with a statement win on Saturday. Sure, the Aggies face tough odds, but this is a team that has already exceeded expectations through their first five games.
A&M should be refreshed coming off its bye week and grab momentum early. Allen will need to have a stellar performance facing an Alabama front seven that may be the best in college football.
But the sophomore quarterback should live up to lofty expectations with a breakout game against the Tide. Saturday’s game should live up to the hype featuring two of the SEC’s top teams vying for a spot atop the SEC West standings.
Allen will likely keep Texas A&M in contention and could secure his legacy with an upset win against Alabama on Saturday.