Week 11 Preview: Texas A&M at Auburn

    Texas A&M (6-3) at Auburn (7-1) Nov. 8, 3:30. CBSHere’s The Deal: Can Auburn get through the Texas A&M hot mess to get ready and attack the make-or-break

    November 7, 2014

    Texas A&M (6-3) at Auburn (7-1) Nov. 8, 3:30. CBS

    Here’s The Deal: Can Auburn get through the Texas A&M hot mess to get ready and attack the make-or-break road games coming up? The Tigers are third in the CFP rankings, and it could arguably be second with wins over Ole Miss, LSU and Kansas State on the resume as they keep pushing through the season. 

    They might not be as explosive and dynamic as they were last year, and they might have beaten the Rebels helped by a few inches, and they might have survived Kansas State because the Wildcats couldn’t hit a field goal, and they struggled to get by a mediocre South Carolina squad, but like last year, no matter how it happened, they keep on winning. This team knows how to get through the nasty games. 

    Can Texas A&M get its season started again? The team that blew away South Carolina in the opener is nowhere near the one that struggled to get by ULM last week and got blown away by Alabama 59-0. Even so, the three losses came to Ole Miss, Mississippi State, and Alabama – no real shame there – and for the struggles against Arkansas, and the close call last week, there’s still time to make some massive noise in the West race. If the Aggies can get out of the road trip to Auburn with a win, they have home games against Missouri and LSU to close out and could finish with a strong kick. 

    This is just the fifth time the two teams have hooked up, with Auburn winning a 45-41 thriller last year – turning the pass rush loose on Johnny Manziel in crunch time – and the Aggies coming up with a 63-21 blowout in 2012. Before that, Texas A&M won the 1986 Cotton Bowl and dominated in Dallas with a 16-0 win … in 1911. 

    Why Texas A&M Might Win: The Aggies will give up 200 rushing yards to Auburn, but can they keep the ground attack from blowing up for over 300? Auburn is physical up front, but the offense relies mostly on speed and making things happen on the outside. A&M will take the tough runs between the hashmarks, but it needs to use its defensive speed and aggressive defensive front to attack from the outside and keep the O from stretching things out. It might have been ULM, but A&M camped out in the opposing backfield with seven sacks and ten tackles for loss. The pass rush has to pressure Nick Marshall the same way. 

    Why Auburn Might Win: What’s been Auburn’s biggest problem? Pass defense, allowing 341 yards and two score to Ole Miss last week, and giving up 416 yards and five touchdowns to South Carolina the week before. Normally that would mean big, big problems against the A&M offense, but lately, the air show has been grounded as Kyle Allen tries to figure things out and the offense as a whole has stopped everything cold. The same offense that threw for 401 yards against Ole Miss three weeks ago was dead against Alabama, throwing for just 141 yards, and was a disaster against a Sun Belt team with Allen completing 13-of-28 passes for 106 yards with a touchdown and a pick. 

    Who To Watch Out For: Turnovers. Is this the game that Texas A&M finally stops screwing up? On the negative side of the turnover battle in every game by the opener against South Carolina – going a +1 – and being even against Arkansas. Going back to last year, the Aggies have lost the turnover battle in 13 of the last 17 games. On the flip side, Auburn is +7 on the year and hasn’t been in the negative in any game this year but one – strangely enough, being -1 in the blowout over LSU. Helping the cause for the Tigers in a huge way is the smart, efficient play of Nick Marshall, who has thrown just six interceptions in his last 17 games, with the only multi-interception game coming in the loss to Mississippi State this year. 

    What’s Going To Happen: It’s possible that Texas A&M rises up and finds its hot passing game again, but the Auburn offense is too balanced, too effective, and too good. The Aggies might have a pass rush, but it’s not going to matter. Auburn also has a pass rush, and it’s going to matter a lot. 

    Prediction: Auburn 41 … Texas A&M 20 
    Line: Auburn -21.5 o/u: 67.5 
    Must Watch Factor: 5: Sonic Highways – 1: Anything involving Nik Wallenda … 3 


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