Following a blowout loss to archrival Alabama, the Auburn football team will now have to do something the Tigers haven't done since 2001 — play another regular season game after the Iron Bowl.
Back in 2001, the Tigers played LSU and came up just short of a win, but this time around they host Texas A&M.
Auburn is 8-10 all-time against the Aggies, having won their most recent matchup 28-20 last year. The Tigers have won three straight, the longest win streak of the series. In a game that has always favored the away team, Auburn will be looking to reverse the narrative and come away with a win over the No. 5 Texas A&M.
Auburn comes in 5-3 with wins over Kentucky, Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU and Tennessee and losses to Georgia, South Carolina, and top-ranked Alabama. The Tigers’ schedule doesn’t get any easier this week as they take on the Aggies.
Texas A&M comes into the game 6-1 with wins over Vanderbilt, Florida, Mississippi State, Arkansas, South Carolina, and LSU and a lone loss to Alabama.
Offense: Get creative and execute well
Auburn’s issues this season have primarily come from the offensive side of the ball, which was starkly apparrent last week against Alabama. Against the No. 4 ranked defense in the SEC, Auburn was only able to muster 13 points.
The challenge only gets tougher this week, as the Tigers must take on the top-ranked defense in the SEC. Over the course of seven games, the Aggies lead the SEC in yards given up per game with 328, 10 fewer than second-ranked Georgia, who Auburn was only able to score six points against earlier this season. To be fair, Auburn was missing its biggest weapon, Tank Bigsby, as well as key offensive lineman Brodarious Hamm, both of whom were fighting through injury.
The Tigers need all of their weapons to be healthy and in place if they are going to have success against Texas A&M.
The Tiger offense is at its best when Bigsby has been in at running back and Bo Nix is freed up to run play-action passes. To establish the ground game, though, Auburn will need to get creative to put the Aggies on their heels.
The Tigers cannot afford to keep running the ball on first and second down and put themselves in third-and-long situations every drive. They need to get a push on the offensive line and create ways to give the runners room to run. The requires execution, and while this may seem like an obvious key to the game, it’s something Auburn has struggled to do against equally/more talented teams. Even Nix’s go-to receiver, Seth Williams, had a costly drop in the Iron Bowl last week.
The offensive line is where offensive success begins and ends, and they will need to find a way to gel and get a push Saturday or you can expect the same results as last week.
Defense: Make Aggies one dimensional
Much of Texas A&M’s hype is around its offensive firepower, which to be fair has been great when firing on all cylinders. But it can be argued that it is not unstoppable like Alabama’s offense has felt to many teams this season.
The Aggies only scored 20 points last week against LSU, and while that was after two bye weeks, it is still evidence that their offense may not be as dangerous as at first glance. In fact, of those 20 points, only one touchdown was scored by the offense the entire night.
Texas A&M’s offense is ranked fifth in the SEC, averaging 418 yards per game. The Aggies run a fairly balanced offense when they are successful in the run game. The passing game has gelled over the season, but quarterback Kellen Mond has shown the tendency to still force some throws that could get him and the offense into trouble.
If the Tigers can shut down the run game and force the pass, they will put Mond into an uncomfortable position and they will have a better chance of creating a low-scoring game, which considering the skill of Texas A&M’s defense, is what Auburn would rather have.
Overall: Keep the game low-scoring
The Tigers will need to perform at the top level of their game if they are going to pull out a win Saturday. The Tigers haven’t lost a home game all season, and this is their last, but the away team has had the advantage in this matchup.
Since joining the SEC ,Texas A&M and Auburn have faced off eight times, and only once has the home team won. That win came for Auburn in 2017 in Jordan-Hare Stadium, the last time the two teams faced off in Auburn.
The health of Auburn will also be crucial, as the Tigers will look to keep Tank Bigsby and Brodarius Hamm as healthy as possible. Both of those players are crucial parts of this offense, and losing either one of them will be hard to make up for against a vaunted Texas A&M defense.
It will also be critical for these players to not have lost hope after the Alabama loss, as they will need all the motivation possible to battle through an early start and win this game.
Auburn needs to hold onto the ball as much as possible on offense and control the time of possession to keep the game low-scoring. The Tigers have proved they can win close games, but shootouts haven’t been their specialty this season, having only scored over 40 once this year. If the Tigers can hold back the Aggie offense and find a way to establish their own offense, they may just find a way to pull off the upset.
Auburn will host Texas A&M in Jordan-Hare Stadium with kickoff set for 11 a.m. on ESPN.