StatTiger: Previewing Auburn at Texas A&M

StatTiger (Stuart Carter) crunches the numbers to predict a winner as Auburn visits Texas A&M as a pair of 5-1 teams square off in College Station this Saturday.

No. 24 Auburn 5-1 (2-1) at No. 7 Texas A&M 5-1 (2-1)

Series Record: 3-0 (Texas A&M)

Last Meeting: 2012 (Texas A&M 63, Auburn 21)

About the teams:

Texas A&M enters the game averaging 47.8 points per game while allowing 32.0. Auburn enters the game averaging 34.3 points while allowing 18.8.

Texas A&M is averaging 586.5 yards per game and will be defended by an Auburn defense allowing 399.2 yards per outing. Auburn enters the game averaging 474.4 yards and will face a defense allowing 474.3.

Coach Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M has a career record of 51-20 and is 16-3 at Texas A&M. Coach Gus Malzahn is 14-4 as a head coach, including a 5-1 record at Auburn.

Kevin Sumlin is in his second season in charge at College Station.

The Aggies are averaging 224.7 yards rushing per game at 5.48 yards per carry. They will face an Auburn defense allowing 146.3 yards per game at 4.08 yards per rush.

Auburn's running game is averaging 287.0 yards per game at 6.26 yards per rush. The Tigers will be defended by a defense allowing 201.2 yards per game on the ground at 5.75 yards per rush.

Johnny Manziel continues his Heisman pace with 305.8 yards passing per game and a QB rating of 179.5. He also leads the team in rushing with 71.2 yards per game at 6.47 yards per carry. Though Auburn is allowing an average 252.8 yards through the air, the Tigers have been efficient at defending the pass with a rating of 112.8.

Nick Marshall leads the Auburn offense with 180.4 yards passing per game and an efficiency rating of 126.6. He is currently averaging 57.6 rushing yards per game on 5.24 yards per carry. The Aggie defense is allowing 273.2 yards passing per game with an efficiency rating of 137.2.

Mike Evans (WR) leads the Aggies with 32 receptions for 737 yards and five touchdowns.

Sammie Coates leads the Auburn receivers with 13 catches for 379 yards and one TD.

Sammie Coates is a redshirt sophomore.

Safety Howard Matthews leads A&M's defense with 38 stops. Linebacker Darian Claiborne leads the Aggies in tackles for loss with four.

Robenson Therezie leads the Auburn defense with 28 tackles and Gabe Wright leads the Tigers in tackles for loss with 6.5.

Inside the Numbers...

*Against five FBS opponents the Aggies are scoring 63.2 percent more than their opponent allows, but their defense is allowing 13.9 percent more than their opponent normally averages.

*During Auburn's five FBS games the offense has scored 12.5 percent more than its opponent allows and is holding the opponent to 31.7 percent below its scoring average.

*Texas A&M enters the game No. 27 in turnover margin to Auburn's No. 86 national ranking.

*Texas A&M is No. 11 nationally in tackles for loss allowed relative to its offensive snaps. Auburn's offense is not too far behind, ranked at No. 15. The difference comes on defense where Auburn is No. 11 nationally on defense while the Aggies are No. 103.

*The Aggie offense is No. 7 nationally in impact play ratio and the Auburn offense is No. 17. The Auburn defense is No. 33 nationally in impact play ratio allowed while the Aggie defense is No. 107.

Mike Evans is a key receiver for the Aggies.

*The Aggie offense is No. 11 nationally in big play ratio and Auburn is No. 24. The Auburn defense is No. 98 in big play defense allowed while the Aggie defense is slightly worse at No. 104.

*Based on FBS averages and current yardage margins, it projects for Auburn to have 504-537 yards this Saturday and for Texas A&M to have 554-655 yards.

What to watch...

*This matchup will primarily come down to Auburn's running attack vs. the Aggies pass offense. Auburn is No. 7 nationally in run offense and will face Texas A&M's 104th ranked run defense. The Aggies are No. 7 in pass efficiency, but will be challenged by Auburn's 28th ranked pass efficiency defense.

*When A&M runs the ball it will possess the No. 20 rushing attack vs. Auburn's 51st ranked run defense. When Auburn passes the ball the Tigers will match up their No. 51 pass offense vs. A&M's 87th-ranked pass efficiency defense.

*The Aggie offense along with Manziel are simply too good to shut down, but Auburn must be able to control them to a certain degree, which means solid tackling and containment.

*The Aggie defense will do everything it can to disrupt the Auburn running attack, which means Auburn's quarterbacks will have to deliver in key moments. Auburn cannot afford for this game to turn into a quarterback passing duel.

*The coaching staff played Jeremy Johnson for more than one reason this past Saturday. Look for Auburn to utilize both quarterbacks in some capacity.

Keys to victory...

*Auburn must be able to run the football. That has been the heart of the offense and the Aggies' primary weakness on defense. If the Tigers struggle running the football, it will likely be a long day.

Two primary concerns entering the game are Auburn's slow starts to games and turnovers. The Tigers will need to match the high-scoring Aggies early in the contest and cannot afford mental mistakes and miscues that put the visitors beyond recovery.

*Texas A&M is No. 3 nationally in third down conversions, which means its offense rarely goes "three-and-out." The Aggies have netted at least 30 yards on 69.3 percent of their possessions. Auburn needs to force a couple of turnovers to limit A&M's scoring opportunities.

The Auburn offense must finish drives this Saturday. This year's offense has scored a TD on 52.9 percent of its possessions during drives with three or more first downs. In comparison the 2010 Auburn offense scored touchdowns 70.6 percent of the time.

Final Word...

Last season against Texas A&M, Auburn looked like the Western Carolina team the Tigers defeated this past Saturday. The game was clearly over by the end of the first quarter as the Aggies eventually gained 671 yards and scored 63 points.

Despite being improved this season Auburn enters the game as a double-digit underdog, which will certainly motivate a team determined to make this a statement game. Most the attention will be on the Aggie offense and Manziel. It will be up to the Auburn offense to turn the attention towards an Aggie defense performing like a sieve.

Junior center Reese Dismukes is a key player on the Auburn offensive line.

This is a grand opportunity for the Tigers to make a statement on the road against a Top 10 team. The Tigers are 3-12 in their last 15 games against Top 10 ranked teams with an average score of 39-17 in favor of the opponent. Texas A&M is not as strong as it was last season primarily because of its defense. Auburn has improved on both sides of the football and is coming into this game with loads of confidence. The Aggies are favored and should be playing at home, but every statistical matchup points to a very close ball game.

Taking the Aggies' average score against FBS competition compared to Auburn's scoring margins and it projects a 37-30 Auburn victory. Take Auburn's average score against FBS competition compared to A&M's scoring margins and it projects a 36-33 Aggie win. Average the two scores and Auburn wins a 35-33 battle.

I like Auburn's edge in the running game, playmaking defense and special teams. If Auburn can take care of the football and perform to its ability, the Tigers will leave the state of Texas victorious. Auburn 35, Texas A&M 33

Around the Southeastern Conference:

Georgia over Vanderbilt
South Carolina over Tennessee
Florida over Missouri
Alabama over Arkansas
LSU over Ole Miss
Season Record: 50-5

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