After back-to-back football victories vs. ranked opponents, the Auburn Tigers have an opportunity to make it three-in-a-row in what has been like their home away from home in the SEC West, Kyle Field, where they will take on the Texas A&M Aggies this week.
Adding more interest to Saturday’s football game from an Auburn perspective is that the Tigers control their own destiny as far as winning the division. If the Tigers win on Saturday and then take care of business in their final three games, two in which they should be favored to win by a healthy margin, then Coach Bryan Harsin’s team will be headed to Atlanta for the league championship game.
The Tigers could still get a rematch vs. Georgia in the title game without a win this week, but the odds of that happening are greatly reduced without knocking off the Aggies, a team Auburn should match up well against.
Last year, Auburn led the Aggies going into the fourth quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium, but Texas A&M’s offense, led by a veteran group of linemen, took control of the contest. Those guys are gone and the Aggies haven’t been nearly as good up front this season.
Last year’s team was by far the best Texas A&M one that Jimbo Fisher has coached since making the move from Florida State to College Station. This year’s bunch is certainly talented, but comes into the game 6-2 with two league losses and could easily be 4-4 due to an inconsistent offense.
However, the Aggies look to be an improving team so this game should be challenging for the visitors, who look to be improving, too.
Texas A&M has won three-in-a-row while the Tigers have knocked off a ranked Arkansas team on the road and 10th-ranked Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium in their previous two outings. There is no reason the Tigers can’t take care of 13th-ranked Texas A&M this week at Kyle Field where Auburn has won each of its previous four visits.
For that to happen the keys for the visitors will be keeping turnovers to a minimum, causing problems for A&M’s talented but inexperienced quarterback, Zach Calzada, and out-rushing the home team.
Texas A&M features two of the better running backs in the SEC, Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, and overall Texas A&M is ranked seventh in the SEC in rushing yards per game.
Last week, the Auburn defense did a good job against the SEC’s best rushing attack, holding Ole Miss to 40 percent below its season average. If the Tigers do that again this week, a 6-2 (3-1 in the SEC) Auburn team will be tough to beat, especially if Tank Bigsby and the other backs have another productive day running the football and if Bo Nix continues to play like a poised veteran at quarterback.
Mark Murphy is the editor of Inside the Auburn Tigers magazine and newsletter.