Who: #20 Texas A&M Aggies at Auburn Tigers
When: 6:00 p.m. CT (ESPNU)
Where: Auburn, Alabama
All-time series record: Texas A&M leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Texas A&M 36, Auburn 16 (1986 Cotton Bowl)
How bad of a season is it when Auburn fans are thinking to themselves, “Oh great, Auburn’s playing Saturday. Oh God, why?” Bad enough to see Auburn start 1-6 with no offense, a slightly-improved but still unimpressive defense, inconsistent special teams and terrible coaching. Bad enough to expose all the flaws of the program in the present and the future. Bad enough to eventually lead to the ousting/resigning of Gene Chizik and Jay Jacobs (though Jacobs has done next to nothing for Auburn athletics since bringing in a new basketball arena).
Chizik’s out, make no mistake. He’s lost control of the locker room, can’t develop talent, and quite frankly, while he did a top-notch job in 2010, his coaching is usually questionable at best. At this point, wins and losses are irrelevant when it comes to Chizik’s future. Even pulling the greatest upset in Iron Bowl history wouldn’t be enough to bring Chizik back, and the odds of such a thing happening are more astronomical than the odds of Taylor Swift not having a grudge with an ex-boyfriend.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M hasn’t had the same kind of problems. The Aggies have surprised many, having great success in their first year in the SEC. Their only two losses so far are against #2 Florida and #6 LSU by a combined eight points. They led by double-digits in both games. Their quarterback, Johnny Manziel (a.k.a. Johnny Football), is a future Heisman candidate. New head coach Kevin Sumlin has already made a name for himself in College Station. It’s a good time to be an Aggie right now.
Will it be a good time to be an Aggie Saturday night? Here’s a preview of Auburn vs. A&M.
Key for Auburn: Give Tre Mason the ball. As WarBlogle said, there will hopefully be students at the game dressed as freemasons to symbolize their play-calling preferences. Tre Mason has been a bright spot on a terrible team. His combination of speed and strength make him Auburn’s most effective weapon on offense. A&M has shown to occasionally have issues stopping the run, but then again, their worst games against the run have been to teams that actually have a pulse offensively. Nonetheless, give Mason the ball at least 20 times. It couldn’t hurt.
Key for Texas A&M: Overcome the home-field advantage. As bad as Auburn is, night games at J0rdan-Hare are never easy for visiting teams. If A&M is jumpy because of the crowd, they’ll have a real fight on their hands. If they ignore the fans and execute their gameplan, A&M will jump out to a quick lead and the Jordan-Hare mystique will vanish quickly.
Auburn player to watch: Corey Lemonier. He has basically vanished since Auburn’s close loss to LSU. He’s had no impact for Auburn’s defense since the end of that game. Going up against a good offensive line and a quarterback with flashes of greatness, Lemonier will have to have a big night. The same goes for Dee Ford.
Texas A&M player to watch: Johnny Manziel. This one’s pretty obvious. He’s just a freshman, so he’s no Heisman-caliber player yet, but down the road, he most certainly will be. He can make any pass and scramble for big runs. He can also gain yards on designed runs. He’s just a very talented player. LSU contained Manziel, and A&M’s offense still had over 400 yards against an LSU defense that hadn’t allowed over 300 yards in a single game up to that point. If Auburn can’t contain Manziel, Texas A&M will dominate time of possession and score plenty of points.
Auburn vs. Texas A&M edges:
Quarterback: Texas A&M
Running back: Auburn
Wide receiver: Texas A&M
Tight end: Texas A&M
Offensive line: Texas A&M
Defensive line: Texas A&M
Linebackers: Texas A&M
Cornerbacks: Texas A&M
Safeties: Texas A&M
Coaching: Texas A&M
Interesting facts: Auburn’s offense ranks 122nd out of 124 FBS teams in total offense…. Auburn can gain their first win over Texas A&M, as the Aggies have claimed the only two meetings between these two teams…. The last time Auburn played Texas A&M was the 1986 Cotton Bowl. Despite the fact the Tigers lost by 20, Bo Jackson was the Cotton Bowl MVP, as he ran for over 230 yards…. For the first time since September of 2007, Auburn has lost consecutive games at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Texas A&M is 3-0 away from home this season…. A loss in this game would send Auburn to 1-7, officially eliminating the Tigers from bowl contention.
Prediction: I actually feel like Auburn will put up a fight in this game and really challenge Texas A&M. In the end, however, Johnny Manziel makes too many plays, the Tigers offense can’t make enough plays and the Aggies send Auburn to 1-7. A win in this game wouldn’t be enough to save Gene Chizik’s job, but a loss here would still hurt his case to stay.
#20 Texas A&M Aggies 31, Auburn Tigers 20
Other SEC predictions:
#1 Alabama 31, #11 Mississippi State 3 (It was a nice run, Mississippi State, but… yeah, you’re probably not going to win.)
#10 Georgia 26, #2 Florida 21 (Georgia’s defense plays inspired, Dawgs upset Gators to… gulp… win the SEC East.)
#13 South Carolina 35, Tennessee 13 (Carolina rebounds from a rough few weeks against Tennessee’s weak defense.)
Ole Miss 45, Arkansas 40 (Shootout in Fayetteville goes to the visiting Rebels.)
Missouri 28, Kentucky 16 (Mizzou finally gets their first SEC win over a terrible Kentucky team.)
Vandy 42, UMass 3 (Yawn……)
Predictions for other notable games:
#8 Oklahoma 27, #5 Notre Dame 17 (Notre Dame’s magical run comes to an end in rowdy Norman.)
#3 Kansas State 34, #14 Texas Tech 27 (Tuberville’s team plays hard, but won’t stop Optimus Klein in the Little Apple.)
#4 Oregon 63, Colorado 0 (Yes, this game will be 63-0. Oregon is a terrific team on both sides of the ball.)
#7 Oregon State 28, Washington 20 (The Beavers can enter the Civil War 11-0. One year after going 3-9. Say what?)
#12 Florida State 44, Duke 13 (Duke’s 6-2 and going to a bowl! But this game will assure it won’t be the Orange Bowl.)
#22 Michigan 24, Nebraska 23 (Michigan grabs a big win on the road on the way to the Rose Bowl.)
Upset Special: Kansas 49, #23 Texas 45 (Texas’ defense is just that bad. How are they ranked, again?)
It looks like it will be another tough loss for Auburn this Saturday, but there will be brighter days ahead for the program. As for right now? Get used to the losing. Fortunately, Ryan Lochte doesn’t think Auburn will lose against Texas A&M, because he’s picking LSU.