Last look: Auburn/Texas A&M

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comOctober 19, 2013 

ROBIN TRIMARCHI Spotted at the Auburn v. Ole Miss at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday. The Tigers won 30-22. 10.05.13


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

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

Quick game notes: There are many measures that can be used to express how much better Auburn's offense has been this season compared to 2012. Here's one: The Tigers have scored 16 touchdowns on the ground and eight through the air in six games. Both of those numbers match Auburn's scoring output in 12 games last year. ... Johnny Manziel's dominance is well-noted. There's a reason he won the Heisman Trophy last year, after all. He hasn't just put himself above head and shoulders above his peers, though. Manziel has done the same among the all-time great quarterbacks in SEC history. There have been 13 occasions in the conference's annals that a quarterback has tallied 500-plus yards of total offense by himself. Manziel owns four of those games, while no one else has more than one. Further, Manziel has the top three totals, with his 576-yard performance against Louisiana Tech last year coming in at No. 1. ... There is little history between these two teams, as they have only played three times. The Tigers are still looking for their first win. Saturday also marks the first time the two will play in College Station. Prior to last season's game in Auburn, the two previous meetings occurred in Dallas. (Texas A&M won 16-0 in 1911 and 36-16 in the 1985 Cotton Bowl). ... Texas A&M boasts the top scoring offense in the SEC, averaging 47.8 points per game. The Aggies also enter Saturday on a nine-game tear of scoring 40 or more points, tied for the longest active streak. Auburn is no slouch itself, averaging 34.3 points per contest. If the Tigers were to hit that number in a loss this weekend, it would snap an 81-game winning streak when scoring 30 or more points. Auburn's last loss under those circumstances came in 1996, when it lost to Georgia in quadruple-overtime, 56-49. KEY MATCHUPS

Auburn offensive line vs. Texas A&M defensive line

This is far and away the most important battle on the field Saturday. Auburn is known for having the top rushing attack in the SEC, averaging more than 287 yards per game behind an experienced line. What isn't as well known is how well the Tigers' big men up front have pass protected, as the team leads the SEC in fewest sacks allowed (four in six games). On the other end of the spectrum is Texas A&M's defensive line. The Aggies have been gashed in the running game, allowing more than 200 per contest, which ranks next-to-last in the conference. They aren't any better against the pass, giving up more than 273.6 yards per game to once again put the Aggies next-to-last in the league. If Texas A&M's line is unable to generate any pressure in the backfield, Auburn will likely be able to hold the ball as long as it wants; in turn, it means fewer opportunities to score for Manziel and Aggies' high-octane offense.

EDGE: Auburn The Aggies haven't proven they can stop anyone yet, and the aforementioned numbers about the Tigers' offensive line gives them a clear advantage here.

Mike Evans vs. Auburn secondary

The Tigers have had problems with top-level receivers this year, with LSU's Jarvis Landry and Ole Miss' Donte Moncrief finishing with more than 100 yards. Overall, Auburn ranks 11th in the SEC in pass defense, giving up nearly 275 yards per game. Meanwhile, Evans leads the conference in receiving yards per game at 122.8.

EDGE: Texas A&M. If the Tigers can hold Evans under 100 yards, that should be considered a small victory.

Johnny Manziel vs. Auburn defense

Everyone knows the Heisman Trophy winner is what makes the Aggies offense go, both literally and figuratively. He leads the SEC in total offense per game at 377 yards a contest. Auburn, as has been written about time and again, allow a lot of yards (399.2 per game, 10th in SEC) but do a good job keeping teams out of the end zone (18.8 points per game, third in SEC). Manziel will be far and away the shiftiest and quickest quarterback the Tigers will have seen this season, since both Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and Ole Miss' Bo Wallace were bigger, more run-between-the-tackle types.

EDGE: tTexas A&M. No one has been able to slow down Manziel much yet. If the Tigers do it, they'll be the first.

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