Game Day Preview: What you need to know about Texas A&M-Auburn
Saturday’s matchup in College Station, Texas, features two SEC West rivals that are looking to finish the second half strong in what has been an eventful season.
Auburn is looking to snap its two-game skid after back-to-back losses against Arkansas and Ole Miss. The Tigers need to win at least two of their final four games to become bowl eligible.
Texas A&M is already bowl eligible after getting its sixth win of the season over South Carolina last week. The Aggies, however, are looking to keep its slim SEC West title hopes alive by notching another conference victory.
Here is everything you need to know about Saturday’s contest:
Auburn Tigers (4-4, 1-4 SEC) vs. No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies (6-2, 3-2 SEC)
Kickoff: Saturday Nov. 7, 7:30 ET (SEC Network)
Weather: 57 degrees, cloudy, 15 percent chance of rain (Weather.com)
Line: Texas A&M -8.5 (VegasInsider)
By the numbers
9 – Yards needed by Texas A&M wide receiver and return specialist Christian Kirk to break Uzoma Nwachukwu’s school record for receiving yards as a freshman. Kirk has 662 yards so far this season.
53 – Yards needed by Aggies sophomore wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones to reach 1,000 receiving yards in his career.
5 – The number of 100-yard rushing games by Auburn running back Peyton Barber this season.
24 – Consecutive games of at least once reception caught by Auburn wide receiver Ricardo Louis.
Storylines to watch
Texas A&M quarterback Kyler Murray will be looking to build off of his strong starting debut, as he helped lead the Aggies to a 35-28 win win over South Carolina last week. The true freshman showcased his dual-threat abilities, as he completed 20-of-28 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Murray will need to put together another strong performance to keep the starting job away from quarterback Kyle Allen, who opened the season as the first-string quarterback before getting benched for inconsistent performances against Alabama and Ole Miss.
Carl Lawson vs. Kyler Murray
Carl Lawson, one of Auburn’s most talented pass rushers, returned last week from a hip injury he had sustained during the season opener against Louisville. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin told reporters earlier in the week that he considers Lawson an “elite player” in the SEC and compared him to Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett. It will be very interesting to see if Murray will be able to use his quick feet to escape the pass rush from Lawson on Saturday.
Shon Coleman vs. Myles Garrett
Another individual matchup to pay attention to is Garrett vs. Auburn offensive tackle Shon Coleman. Garrett is looking to build on his monster campaign, as the sophomore playmaker enters Saturday’s game with 10.5 sacks, 44 tackles, 15.5 tackles for a loss and five forced fumbles. Coleman has work cut out for him as the lineman that the Tigers will heavily rely on to contain the Aggies’ 6-foot-5, 260-pound pass rusher.
Auburn and Texas A&M don’t carry much history as SEC foes, as the two teams have only met five times, three since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. But in the last three matchups, the games have ended in shootouts with both teams combining for a whopping 249 points. In 2012, the Aggies handed Auburn the worst home loss in school history, 63-21. The next season, Auburn made its first trip to Kyle Field and got its revenge, 45-41. Last year, Texas A&M defeated the Tigers, 41-38.
Prediction: Texas A&M 27, Auburn 23
The return of Lawson at defensive end for Auburn should keep the Texas A&M passing game honest throughout the game. However, Texas A&M found itself a new identity on offense last week, by displaying a strong ground game against South Carolina. Expect the Aggies to do it again against the Tigers, with Murray and running backs Tra Carson and James White leading the way.
If Texas A&M’s defense can avoid allowing multiple explosive plays against Auburn’s offense, the Aggies should be able to hold off the Tigers in what will likely be a very close and physical game until the end.