First take: A quick look at Texas A&M

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 13, 2013 

Who: No. 24 Auburn (5-1, 2-1 SEC; beat Western Carolina 62-3 on Saturday) at No. 7 Texas A&M (5-1, 2-1; beat Ole Miss 41-38 on Saturday)

When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Kyle Field (82,600) | College Station, Texas


Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-102.9 FM in Columbus; WGZZ-94.3 FM in Auburn/Opelika)

All-time series: Texas A&M leads 3-0

When last they met: To put it bluntly, it wasn’t pretty for Auburn. Texas A&M came into Jordan-Hare Stadium and obliterated the hosts 63-21, the most points the Tigers had allowed since Georgia Tech rolled to a 68-7 victory on Nov. 29, 1917. The Aggies moved the ball at will against the Tigers’ defense, as the visitors put it in the end zone on eight of its first nine possessions. Texas A&M piled up 621 yards of total offense, setting a record for the highest total by an Auburn opponent. At the center of the rout, not surprisingly, was Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel. The then-redshirt freshman phenom racked up 350 all-purpose yards and five touchdowns. He completed 16 of his 23 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns (two going to senior receiver Ryan Swope) and added 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns with his dazzling feet. While Manziel and the Aggies’ offense was making it look easy, the Tigers were struggling to keep someone — anyone — at quarterback. Starter Clint Moseley left the game after just three plays, injuring his ankle following a sack. Kiehl Frazier was next up, but made little headway, going 6 of 11 for 89 yards. Finally, true freshman (and Columbus native) Jonathan Wallace came in and gave the offense a bit of a spark, leading the Tigers on three scoring drives. Of course, by then it was far too little, far too late. If you want to point to a game that put the final nail in the coffin on the Gene Chizik era, this was probably it.

Quick facts on Texas A&M: Kevin Sumlin is 16-3 in two seasons at the helm of Texas A&M's program entering this week's contest. His overall record stands at 51-20 after posting a 35-17 mark at Houston from 2008-11. ... Texas A&M escaped with a 41-38 victory on the road Saturday night against Ole Miss. Aggie kicker Josh Lambo made a 33-yard field goal as time expired to help the visitors complete a come-from-behind win against the Rebels for the second year in a row. Texas A&M trailed twice in the fourth quarter — at 31-24 and 38-31 — before it finally recaptured the lead for good on Lambo's go-ahead kick. ... With 346 passing yards and 113 rushing yards against the Rebels, Manziel notched his fourth career 300/100 performance. That's the most of any player in FBS history. ... More Manziel: With his 459 yards Saturday night, Manziel eclipsed the 7,000-yard barrier in total offense in just 19 games. No FBS player has ever reached that plateau faster. ... Saturday's contest marked the first game-winning kick for Lambo, who won the starting job just two games ago. He joined the team as a walk-on last season and was a first-round pick by FC Dallas in the 2008 Major League Soccer draft. ... With its 41 points, Texas A&M pushed its streak of 40-point games to nine, which is the longest active streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision. ... With the win, the Aggies still haven't lost on the road since joining the Southeastern Conference last season, holding a 6-0 mark. Texas A&M has won its last 10 road games overall, tying a school record set over two seasons (1939-40). For Sumlin, the win extended a personal streak of road triumphs. Sumlin has won 15 straight games on the road; the last time he took a loss was in 2010, when his Houston team fell to Texas Tech.

Which Tiger is primed for a big performance: What happens when a resistable force meets a movable object? The answer might be found Saturday when Auburn's rushing attack meets Texas A&M's defense. (Side note: Overlook the fact "resistable" isn't technically a word.) After Auburn's victory against Western Carolina — which saw the Tigers rack up 511 yards on the ground — the team is now tops in the SEC, averaging 287 yards per game. On the other end of the spectrum is the Aggies' rush defense, which ranks next-to-last in the SEC allowing 201.2 yards per contest. The only team Texas A&M ranks ahead of is Kentucky, which is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the SEC. Knowing these numbers, Gus Malzahn may lean on the run even more than normal. So expect to hear Tre Mason's name called at least 15 times next week, along with a healthy dose of carries for backfield mates Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant.

Which Aggie could give the Auburn fits: Is there any question which player fills this role? Manziel has shown no signs of slowing down after his Heisman Trophy-winning campaign last year, as he's leading the SEC in total offense at more than 377 yards per game, more than 60 yards clear of second-place Aaron Murray of Georgia. Though his rushing numbers are down ever-so-slightly — he averaged 7.0 yards per carry last year, while this season he's at 6.5 through six games — his passing numbers are better than ever. Manziel has upped his completion percentage nearly five points (from 68 percent to 73) and, by and large, people believe he's a more polished passer than he was last season. Anything less than another standout performance from the Kerrville, Texas, native this weekend would qualify as a surprise.

Extra point: Texas A&M finished tied for fifth (along with fellow SEC member Georgia) in the final Associated Press Poll last season, its best end-of-season showing since 1956. That year, the Aggies also finished No. 5 in the final AP Poll. The only other top-five finish for the Aggies came in 1939, when they finished the season ranked No. 1 to capture their sole AP national title.

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