The Aggies start a four-game home stand this week with a match-up against fellow SEC West rival Auburn. Texas A&M and Auburn each have one conference loss, and a second defeat would be a blow to either team as it would effectively end any hopes of playing for the SEC Championship in December.
There is a lot riding on this game, so it is no wonder CBS decided to broadcast it at 2:30 p.m. local time as the SEC game of the week. And unlike last year’s drubbing in Auburn, this game should be much closer.
The Tigers have more sacks than the Aggies and a much better defense, statistically speaking. The Aggies clearly have the better quarterback in Manziel, but Auburn may have a slight edge in the running back category.
Auburn announced that quarterback Nick Marshall will be the starter this weekend against the Aggies. He sat out last week against an overmatched Western Carolina, while his back-up, Jeremy Johnson, threw for four touchdowns in the rout. Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel has moved up into the Heisman talk again, just like he did last year after a come from behind victory in Oxford.
The key to winning this game will be the disruption of the quarterback. Auburn was successful against Ole Miss and Mississippi State due to the pressure they put on the signal caller. In the LSU game, they were able to sack Zach Mettenberger once, but other than midway through the first quarter Auburn was never closer than two touchdowns to LSU, so it was a non-factor.
The Tigers gave up three sacks against Mississippi State; however, that was more than a month ago and their offensive line has improved since then.
The Aggie defense has only recorded one sack in league play thus far–last Saturday against Ole Miss. The offense has given up one per game through six games this season. The line has definitely given Manziel plenty of time in the backfield to perform his magic.
The difference in this game will be the advantage the Aggies have in playing at home in Kyle Field. It will only take one timely tackle for a loss, a fumble recovery or an interception by the Aggies, and the rout may well be on.
The Aggie defense has been improving, despite what most fans think. They have been able to do just enough to get off the field, and their stand on the final drive at Ole Miss may well be the turning point for this team.
The defense is not the “Wrecking Crew” of old, but more of a “bend, don’t break” unit. As young as they are, the momentum from winning last week will be huge and carry over to a victory on Saturday afternoon.
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