StatTiger: Previewing Texas A&M at Auburn

Stuart Carter (StatTiger) crunches the numbers and predicts the outcome for Auburn's home football game vs. the Texas A&M Aggies.

Auburn 1-6 (0-5) vs. Texas A&M 5-2 (2-2)

Series Record: 2-0-0 (Texas A&M)

Last Meeting: 1986, Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16

National Statistical Rankings (2012):

Rushing Offense: Texas A&M (No. 19), Auburn (No. 97)
Pass Efficiency Offense: Texas A&M (No. 46), Auburn (No. 110)
Total Offense: Texas A&M (No. 9), Auburn (No. 119)
Scoring Offense: Texas A&M (No. 9), Auburn (No. 118)
Rushing Defense: Texas A&M (No. 45), Auburn (No. 95)
Pass Efficiency Defense: Texas A&M (No. 35), Auburn (No. 90)
Total Defense: Texas A&M (No. 62), Auburn (No. 75)
Scoring Defense: Texas A&M (No. 38), Auburn (No. 55)
Net Punting: Texas A&M (No. 4), Auburn (No. 28)
Punt Return Offense: Texas A&M (No. 10), Auburn (No. 94)
Punt Return Defense: Auburn (No. 2), Texas A&M (No. 5) Kick Return Offense: Auburn (No. 8), Texas A&M (No. 14) Kick Return Defense: Auburn (No. 5), Texas A&M (No. 16)
Turnover Margin: Texas A&M (No. 103), Auburn (No. 112)

Inside the Numbers:

•Freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel enters the game averaging 379.8 yards per outing and is responsible for 24 offensive touchdowns through seven games.

Ben Malena is the Aggies leading rusher among the running backs with 462 yards at 6.4 yards per rush.

•Although he is just a freshman, Mike Evans is one of the top receivers in the conference with 42 receptions for 625 yards. He has caught 16 passes of 15 yards or more including seven for gains of at least 25 yards.

Tre Mason and Onterio McCalebb have combined for 28 run plays of 10 yards or more. Manziel has 23 by himself.

•Manziel will pose a major problem for a struggling Auburn defense with his passer rating of 191.2 on third down and an average of 8.8 yards per rush on third down.

• Texas A&M is No. 12 nationally in third down offense, converting 51 percent of the tume. Auburn is No. 36 nationally in third down defense.

•Auburn is No. 119 nationally in allowing tackles for loss and the Aggies are No. 24 in tackles for loss on defense.

•The Aggies have averaged 6.63 yards per play on first down and will face an Auburn defense allowing 6.08 yards per play on first down.

•Auburn's third down pass offense has been hideous with a rating of 81.5. The Tigers will face a defense with a pass rating of 85.7.

•Auburn has averaged 5.41 yards per play on first down, including an average of just 3.77 yards per rush. Texas A&M is currently allowing 4.27 yards per rush on first down.

•Although Texas A&M is No. 76 nationally in sacks allowed, Auburn's defensive line has struggled in recent games. Last week against Vanderbilt the defensive line was involved in a season low 8.7 percent of the team's tackles. The previous low was 18 percent.

What to watch for...

•Auburn's defense has struggled defending spread offenses this season, allowing 444.3 yards and 30.8 points per game. Texas A&M will be the most explosive offense Auburn has faced this year, which spells trouble for the Tigers.

•Auburn's defense has allowed the opponent to complete 66 percent of their passes with the No. 90 ranked defense in pass efficiency. They will be severely tested by an athletic quarterback who is an accurate passer and a major threat to run the football.

•Auburn is currently averaging 11.6 points per game on offense during their last seven conference games. Auburn will need to find a way of generating more offense than what they have shown if they are going to make this game competitive.

•Taking the Aggies' scoring average in FBS games vs. Auburn's scoring margins projects a 29-16 A&M victory. Taking Auburn's scoring average vs. the Aggie's scoring margins projects a 34-11 Aggie victory.

•Can Auburn's defense limit Manziel's big play ability? Auburn has allowed an alarming 27 plays of 15 yards or more during its last three games, something the Tigers cannot afford against Texas A&M.

The struggling Auburn offense will try to take a big leap forward this week with Tre Mason carrying the football.

•Of the six FBS teams Texas A&M has faced, four of their opponents had a player who finished gained better than 100 yards rushing, which could be a great opportunity for Tre Mason.

Keys to victory...

•Auburn's offense has compiled a pass rating of 105.8 during the last 13 conference games. This includes 10 touchdown passes to 20 interceptions and four of those 10 TD passes came against Ole Miss in 2011. Auburn has averaged only 133.5 yards passing in its last 13 conference games. Auburn's starting quarterback will need a big night for the Tigers to pull off the upset.

•Auburn finally won the turnover battle last week against Vanderbilt by gaining three fumbles and no turning the ball over for the first time this season. The Tigers will need to repeat this performance against the Aggies, but they must score points off of those opportunities.

•Auburn's defense will need to play its best game of the season in terms of making negative plays and forcing turnovers. If this doesn't happen, look for Texas A&M to roll up yardage and points.

•Coach Gene Chizik must be aggressive in every phase of the game. A conservative approach to this game will result in a blowout defeat. The Tigers have nothing to lose from this point on and can afford to be more aggressive.

•If Clint Moseley draws his third consecutive start, it would be great to see Jonathan Wallace have an entire series to himself. At 1-6 Auburn has nothing to lose and plenty to gain by allowing Wallace to operate the actual offense, especially if this game takes a turn for the worse. Playing Wallace extensively will also give the coaching staff a peak into next season's quarterback competition.

Auburn makes its way back home this Saturday night against Texas A&M after a two-game stretch on the road. The Tigers are hoping the home and night game atmosphere will pump some energy into a team that has to be suffering emotionally. With pride being the primary incentive to compete, Auburn will be tested from the opening gun by a very aggressive Texas A&M offense. The Tigers must play well early in every phase of the game or this one will get out of hand quickly. The plan of attack on offense must change this week as Auburn will need to be balanced to put much needed points on the scoreboard .

Last Saturday LSU adjusted its game plan against Texas A&M by going to a 3-4 defensive front to control and pressure the Aggies quarterback. The plan worked as Manziel completed only 52 percent of his passes and was held to just 27 yards rushing on 17 carries. he was intercepted three times. Auburn's defense must be focused and tackle well to maintain some level of control over this offense.

Corey Lemonier and the rest of the defensive front need to have a strong game on Saturday night.

During the last two games Mason has finally become the featured running back. This season he has four games with at least 14 carries, averaging 5.2 yards per rush and 90.7 yards per game in those contests. He needs to have his most productive game of the season for the Tigers this week.

Auburn's best opportunities to win a conference game this year have passed with the losses to Arkansas, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Though the Aggies are not one of elite teams in the conference, they have made a great showing during their inaugural season in the Southeastern Conference. With a few breaks Texas A&M could be undefeated and the Aggies were extremely competitive during their two losses. Coach Kevin Sumlin is 40-19 midway through his fifth season as a head coach. He possesses a great offensive mind. Right now his Aggies are playing at an entirely different level than Auburn, which makes the probability of an upset highly unlikely.

Texas A&M enters the game with six consecutive 400-yard games, scoring at least 30 points during all five of its victories. Auburn is currently No. 11 in the conference in total defense. The Aggies are competing for a solid bowl invitation and the Tigers are still searching for their first victory against a BCS team. Look for Texas A&M to be aggressive on both sides of the football and for Auburn to remain in a conservative shell with a strong influx of younger personnel. Texas A&M 38, Auburn 13.

Around the Southeastern Conference...

Missouri over Kentucky
South Carolina over Tennessee
Ole Miss over Arkansas
Georgia over Florida
Vanderbilt over UMass
Alabama over Mississippi State

Season Record: 56-14

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