Where: Kyle Field in College Station, Texas.
Line: Texas A&M by 14.
Radio: 1070 AM, 100.5 FM
1. “It’s a new year”: 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.
2. In a league of his own: Johnny Manziel’s dominance is well-noted. There’s a reason he won the Heisman Trophy last year. He hasn’t just put himself 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 all-time in the SEC a quarterback has compiled more than 500 yards of total offense. Manziel has had four of those games, while no one else has more than one. Also, Manziel has the top three totals, with his 576-yard performance against Louisiana Tech last year coming in at No. 1.
3. Aggies have Tigers by the tail: There is little history between these two teams, as they have played only three times. The Tigers still are looking for their first win. Saturday also marks the first time the two will play in College Station. Before 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).
4. Scoring streaks on the line (maybe): Texas A&M boasts the top scoring offense in the SEC, averaging 47.8 points a 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 a 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.
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 a game behind an experienced line. What isn’t as well known is how 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 a contest, which ranks next-to-last in the conference. They aren’t any better against the pass, giving up more than 273.6 yards a 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 likely will 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.
The stage is set for yet another SEC shootout. Texas A&M has shown it is going to give up its fair share of points. However, Alabama is the only team that has made Texas A&M pay for that lack of defensive punch this season. Auburn’s best chance is to stake itself out to an early lead and dominate in the time of possession. Forcing a few turnovers wouldn’t hurt, either. The experience of playing at LSU earlier this season will help the visitors here, but it won’t be enough to hold Manziel and the Aggies’ offense under wraps long enough to walk away with a road victory over a top-10 team. ... Texas A&M 48, Auburn 38.