Series Record: Texas A&M (3-1-0)
Last Meeting: (2013) Auburn, 45-41
About the teams:
Coach Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M is 61-26 overall and 26-9 at TAMU. Gus Malzahn is 28-6 all time and 19-3 at Auburn.
Coach Kevin Sumlin has a 1-1 record in games vs. Auburn.
Nick Marshall has a quarterback rating of 149.3 with 13 touchdown passes to just four interceptions for the Tigers. His leading receiver is Duke Williams with 37 receptions for 598 yards and five touchdowns. Sammie Coates and Quan Bray have combined for 37 receptions, 580 yards and four touchdowns.
Cameron Artis-Payne leads Auburn in rushing with 974 yards at 5.47 yards per carry. Marshall is No. 2 on the team with 631 yards rushing, averaging 6.64 yards per attempt.
Johnathan Ford leads Auburn in tackles with 60 followed by Cassanova McKinzy with 52. McKinzy also leads the team with 8.0 tackles for loss followed by Davonte Lambert, Montravius Adams and Kris Frost with 6.0 tackles for loss each.
Auburn has 56 tackles for loss on defense while allowing 39 on offense. This includes 16 sacks to only six surrendered.
Jonathan Jones is No. 16 nationally with 11 passes defended and leads the Tigers with five interceptions.
The Aggie ground game currently averages 150.0 yards per game led by Tra Carson with 326 yards at 4.53 yards per rush. Trey Williams is their No. 2 rusher with 313 yards at 6.02 yards per carry.
The Aggies have four receivers with more than 30 receptions on the season. Josh Reynolds has 34 receptions and eight touchdowns. Malcome Kennedy leads the Aggies with 38 receptions.
The Aggie defense has recorded 54 tackles for loss while allowing 45 on offense. This includes 29 sacks on defense and 18 allowed on offense.
The Auburn offense is currently averaging 532 yards and 37 points per game in conference play this season.
How they match up...
•Auburn’s run offense is ranked No. 10 nationally vs. TAMU’s run defense, which is ranked No. 88. TAMU is No. 82 in rushing vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 26 in run defense. Major edge to Auburn.
•TAMU is ranked No. 28 in pass efficiency vs. Auburn, which is No. 45 in pass efficiency defense. Auburn is No. 6 in pass efficiency vs. TAMU, which is No. 67 in pass efficiency defense. Edge to Auburn.
•TAMU is No. 34 in yards per play on first down vs. Auburn, which is No. 90 in yards allowed on first down. Auburn is No. 47 in yards per play on first down vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 66 in yards allowed per play on first down. Edge to Texas A&M.
•Auburn is No. 3 nationally in third down offense vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 43 in third down defense. TAMU is No. 47 in third down offense vs. Auburn, which is No. 31 in third down defense. Edge to Auburn.
•Auburn is No. 6 in red zone touchdown percentage vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 86 on defense. TAMU is No. 4 on offense vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 26 on defense. Edge to Auburn.
•Auburn is No. 5 in generating run plays of 10-plus yards and pass plays of 15-plus yards vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 65 defending impact plays. TAMU is No. 41 in generating impact plays on offense vs. Auburn, which is No. 73 defending them. Edge to Auburn.
•Auburn is No. 21 in generating run plays of 20-plus yards and pass plays of 25-plus yards vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 38 defending them. TAMU is No. 56 in generating big plays on offense vs. Auburn, which is No. 61 defending them. Slight edge to Auburn.
•Auburn is No. 22 in turnover margin vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 114 nationally. Major edge to Auburn.
•Auburn is No. 26 in tackles for loss vs. TAMU, which is ranked No. 36 in tackles for loss allowed. TAMU is No. 63 in tackles for loss vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 31 in tackles for loss allowed. Edge to Auburn.
•Texas A&M is No. 15 in net punting vs. Auburn, which is No. 81. Edge to Texas A&M.
•Auburn is No. 1 in punt return offense vs. TAMU, which is No. 96 in punt return defense. TAMU is No. 11 in punt return offense vs. Auburn, which is ranked No. 94 in punt return defense. No edge.
•TAMU is No. 42 in kick return offense vs. Auburn, which is No. 105 in kick return defense. Auburn is No. 75 in kick return offense vs. TAMU, which is No. 23 in kick return defense. Edge to Texas A&M.
Keys to victory...
*Auburn must be focused for this game or it could be closer than expected. Though Texas A&M will be starting a true freshman at quarterback who is struggling, Auburn cannot overlook the Aggies.
*Auburn must apply pressure on the quarterback and the secondary must tackle well.
*Take care of the football and Auburn likely wins comfortably.
*The Auburn defense needs to keep everything in front and not allow big plays.
*Auburn will dictate the flow of this game with its run offense, which should open up their pass offense.
*Auburn must avoid third and long because the Aggies have two solid defensive ends who have been exceptional at rushing the quarterback.
What to watch...
*Auburn is No. 17 nationally in yards per rush on first-down and the Aggies are No. 100 on defense. The Tigers should have another stellar rushing performance.
Center Reese Dismukes, a four-year starter, is one of the keys to Auburn's running game.
*Can the Aggies exploit an Auburn defense that is No. 73 in allowing run plays of 10 yards or more and pass-plays of 15-plus?
*Look for Auburn to extend its school record of consecutive 200-yard rushing games to 14 against the Aggies.
*Look for the Aggies to feature their run offense more often than normal to take the pressure off their freshman quarterback.
*With a second consecutive week to prepare as the starting quarterback, look for Texas A&M to have a better game plan.
With Auburn coming off an emotional road victory over No. 4 Ole Miss, Texas A&M could be catching the Tigers at the right time. It will be important for the AU coaching staff to keep the players grounded for this game. The matchups in this game point to a decisive Auburn victory. The scoring averages and margins from conference games only projects two scores favoring the Tigers. Auburn wins by scores of 40-33 and 68-21. Average the two scores and the Tigers win 54-27. Aggie quarterback Allen struggled at home against Louisiana-Monroe this past Saturday, which wasn’t a good building block to facing Auburn on the road.
The bye week after the Mississippi State loss has appeared to pay dividends for the Auburn offense moving forward. It has a similar feel to last season when Auburn steadily improved week after week following the loss to LSU and subsequent bye-week. The difference this season is Auburn’s offense appears to be more balanced than the 2013 group. The three conference games after the LSU loss in 2013 resulted in an average of 13.6 pass attempts per game. Two games after the 2014 Mississippi State loss Auburn is averaging 18.5 pass attempts per game. Before the last bye week Auburn averaged 488 total yards per game. Since the last bye week Auburn has averaged 529 yards per game.
As bad as Texas A&M looked against Louisiana-Monroe, I expect the Aggies to have a better game plan built around their quarterback. Nearly 74 percent of the 64 impact plays surrendered by the Auburn defense have come through the air. This plays into the favor of the Texas A&M offense, which relies heavily on its receivers to make plays in space. It was a great sign for the Tigers to see their defense apply pressure during the Ole Miss game with four sacks. It will take this kind of effort to prevent the Aggie offense from igniting, even with a freshman quarterback.
Look for the Auburn offense to continue rolling and for the defense to frustrate Allen while making his first start on the road. Auburn 49, Texas A&M 17.
Around the Southeastern Conference: