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Alabama braces again for Texas A&M’s speedy tempo

Coach Nick Saban thinks his Tide have adapted to teams’ no-huddle offenses.

dave martin/associated press

Coach Nick Saban thinks his Tide have adapted to teams’ no-huddle offenses.

Alabama coach Nick Saban knows it’s become irrelevant whether frenetic, no-huddle offenses are what he wants college football to be.

In the case of No. 6 Texas A&M, they’re also awfully hard to slow down.

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That is the challenge Saturday for the top-ranked Crimson Tide in the teams’ Southeastern Conference opener at the Aggies’ Kyle Field. Preparing for this kind of uptempo offense was a focal point for the Tide during the offseason.

Alabama (1-0) was helpless against it in the first quarter of last season’s loss to Texas A&M (2-0) before catching on and nearly rallying from a 20-0 deficit. The no-huddle offenses have become a staple of the college game — whether Saban likes it or not.

SEC opponents Mississippi, Kentucky, and Auburn also run variations.

‘‘I think we've all adapted to it more and more because we play against these teams more,” said Saban. “When you play against it once or twice a year, I think it’s a tough adaptation for the players. But we played against it eight or nine times last year. We’ll probably play against it at least that much this year, so it’s becoming more the norm rather than the exception.

‘‘I think that players should be able to adapt to it more readily. I know that we've tried to prepare our players for it more and more because you always say, ‘OK, what did we see? How much did we see it? How does our practice reflect that?’ ’’

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Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin isn’t about to downshift.

‘‘We’re going to go as fast as we possibly can,’’ Sumlin said.

‘‘Just because you don’t want to play that style doesn’t mean that that’s not the way the game should be played.’’

Through two games against weaker competition, the Aggies have amassed 117 points and 1,200 yards. Alabama allowed just 153 points in 14 games last season.

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Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wants his running game to control the ball and keep it away from pass-happy California on Saturday in Berkeley.

‘‘That’s basically everything,’’ Meyer said. ‘‘To be able to move the chains and get first downs, you’re going to have to block them and run the ball a little bit.’’

The Buckeyes want to reel off plays quickly to keep defenses in motion, but will never be in the same ballpark with teams such as Cal, which has had freshman quarterback Jared Goff throw 125 passes in his first two games.

Running the ball effectively is the best thing you can do to rest your defense against the ‘‘Bear Raid’’ attack that is averaging an astonishing 97 plays, 30 first downs, and 473 yards passing per game.

Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller sustained a sprained ligament in his left knee last week against San Diego State. Meyer said no decision will be reached on Miller’s availability until game time.

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