College Confidential: Who wins the A&M-Alabama matchup?

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Star-Telegram writers Jimmy Burch and Stefan Stevenson sound off on the issues of the day in college football in the video segment College Confidential at star-telegram.com.

TCU’s starting quarterback Casey Pachall is out for eight weeks with a broken left arm, putting the offense in the hands of Trevone Boykin, who started most of last season. How does this impact the team’s Big 12 title hopes?

Jimmy: Probably not much, as long as Boykin stays healthy. He was the more effective quarterback in the Horned Frogs’ first two games and seems much improved as a thrower this season.

Stefan: I don’t think Pachall had enough time to remind people how good he could be, but Boykin looks much improved passing the ball from last year. If he stays healthy, TCU should remain in the hunt.

The much-awaited matchup between No. 6 Texas A&M and No. 1 Alabama finally is here. Will Saturday’s game equal its pregame hype, and who wins it?

Jimmy: I expect to see a classic and I know the atmosphere will be electric in Kyle Field. As for a winner, I think Alabama wins a close one because the Crimson Tide has the better defense. But if the Aggies pull the upset, they deserve strong consideration to be No. 1 next week.

Stefan: I agree on all counts. The Aggies’ defense looks suspect, to say the least. I don’t think a team such as Alabama gets embarrassed by Johnny Manziel for a second consecutive season. The Tide will win a close one.

Texas coach Mack Brown moved swiftly to dismiss defensive coordinator Manny Diaz after last week’s dismal showing in a loss to Brigham Young. Will the September switch to new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson really improve Texas’ poor tackling and porous run defense?

Jimmy: I don’t know why it would. This has all the earmarks of a desperation move by a coach on the hot seat. Brown appears headed to a win-or-else matchup against Oklahoma on Oct. 12 if he wants to quiet speculation about his job status.

Stefan: There’s not much room to get worse after Texas’ showing at BYU. So, I’ll go with yes, the defense gets a little better. I think what this proves more than anything is that a CEO coach such as Brown can’t win unless he has top-notch coordinators.

What is the Baylor offense, averaging 69.5 points through its first two games, capable of doing to Big 12 opponents when conference play begins for the Bears?

Jimmy: The Bears’ scoring pace will slow against better defenses. But they will hang 40 points on most Big 12 peers. Expect Baylor to be 7-0 heading into its Nov. 7 game against Oklahoma. But the Bears’ closing stretch is brutal.

Stefan: I agree on the 7-0 start. That offense looks like it picked up where it left off in 2012. And except for TCU, I don’t know if Big 12 defenses can slow them down all that much. Fun times in Waco ahead.

Obviously, the Big 12 has not covered itself in glory during its early nonconference matchups. Are we looking at a down year for the league in terms of national prestige?

Jimmy: Yes. I don’t see a national title contender in this league. And there’s a good chance the Big 12 champ finishes out of the Top 10 in the final polls, with two league losses.

Stefan: Agreed. The Big 12 champion isn’t making it through unscathed. Baylor could be riding high and undefeated but will have to beat OU Nov. 7 and have to go to OSU and TCU in late November. Texas has to play at TCU. It’s going to be a mess.

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