Auburn Hosts the Aggies
Auburn is looking for its first ever home win against Texas A&M
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! Auburn comes off a much-needed bye week Saturday and takes on Texas A&M in another early kickoff at 11:00 Central Time. Auburn comes into this game looking for a 6th win to improve bowl position and is a slight favorite over the visiting Aggies. Auburn has had trouble running the ball against most teams this season, and Texas A&M has been formidable against the run. To further cast doubt on the matchup, star Auburn running back JaTarvious Whitlow has been “day to day” and “limited” in practice, according to head coach Gus Malzahn. Texas A&M has had holes in the secondary, and it will be up to Auburn to try and exploit these tendencies.
I think it is fair to say that there is a lot more pressure on Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn than on new Aggie coach Jimbo Fisher, who is in the first year of a long-term contract. It was expected that Jimbo would take a couple of years to transition Texas A&M from a spread-style team to more of a pro look. Auburn was expected to compete for a championship this year and has been favored in every game. It has been very disappointing to lose 3 games, especially how Auburn lost against teams it should have beaten.
Auburn will have a matchup advantage on defense, although Texas A&M has some weapons like Trayveon Williams and Quartney Davis. The Aggies have had a tough time scoring touchdowns this year, and I fully expect that they will try to lob up some of those sideline balls everybody tries against Auburn. Here’s hoping that the secondary is up to the challenge, and we don’t get a flag-happy referee crew.
Special teams are kind of a wash in this game. Both teams feature good punting games and look to keep the other team pinned deep. Braden Mann is averaging an astounding 52.4 yards per punt. You’d think that there would be some outkicking the coverage there, but that has not been the case as Texas A&M is only allowing 6.8 yards per return on 10 returns. Mann is also strong on kickoffs, notching 37 touchbacks on 48 kickoffs.
It should be a pleasantly cool, mostly clear morning in Auburn with a game-time temperature around 60 degrees, rising to near 70° by the end of the game. It will be excellent fall weather, and Auburn will be nationally televised on ESPN for the second game in a row. We will have our usual open thread and play by play running for this one, and we’ll be cheering our Tigers on.
A look at other SEC games this weekend, after the jump!
In addition to the Auburn/Aggie tilt at 11:00 AM, South Carolina visits Ole Miss. For the Gamecocks, this game is win or stay home for the holidays. The Gamecocks are 4–3 with games remaining at Ole Miss, at Florida, vs. Chattanooga, and at Clemson. That’s a difficult slate. Wins against Ole Miss and Chattanooga would get South Carolina to 6 wins. Ole Miss is 5–3 and under little pressure, being on probation this season.
The SEC Game of the Week on CBS is Georgia at Kentucky, a battle that will likely decide the SEC East title. I’d love to see Kentucky win this game, but I don’t think it’s likely. The Wildcat offense has really sputtered of late, and Georgia is a team that can shut down the run.
At 3:00 PM, Missouri visits Florida, and Charlotte visits Tennessee. Mizzou currently stands at 4–4, and likely will lose to Florida. However, I think the Tigers can get a pair of wins out of their remaining 3 games, hosting Vanderbilt, at Tennessee, and hosting Arkansas. I don’t expect Charlotte to be a problem for Tennessee.
In the evening 6:30 PM slate, Mississippi State hosts Louisiana Tech. La Tech is one of those teams that sometimes gives the big boys fits, but MSU is a team that tends to really take it out on overmatched nonconference teams.
It is a CBS double header this week as Alabama visits LSU at 7:00 PM. I expect quite the rowdy crowd for the game, but until I see anyone actually stop the Alabama offense, I figure this one will be over before halftime.