College Football Game of the Week: No. 13 Auburn vs. No. 14 Texas A&M
The game of the week features two teams that have aspirations of taking home the SEC West crown as No. 13 Auburn travels to No. 14 Texas A&M for a showdown between the nation's highest-ranked two-loss teams.
It will be the Aggies' toughest test since their stunning upset of then-No. 1 Alabama on Oct. 9. For Auburn, it will be the fourth straight game against an SEC foe ranked inside the top 20.
The Tigers (6-2, 3-1 SEC) are coming off a big 31-20 home win over No. 16 Ole Miss, while the Aggies (6-2, 3-2) are well-rested as they had a bye last week.
Texas A&M ended a three-game Auburn winning streak last season with a 31-20 victory.
The Aggies dominated on the ground totaling 313 yards as running backs Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane carved up the Tiger front seven.
Both Spiller and Achane are back and make up an elite rushing attack.
Last week Auburn held Ole Miss rushing attack to just 157 yards which is an impressive feat as the Rebels are seventh in the nation averaging 250 yards per game.
When Texas A&M beat Auburn last season, the Aggies had the edge at quarterback, as then-senior Kellen Mond completed 18-of-23 passes, and fired two touchdown passes while adding another on the ground.
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix was mediocre in the loss, finishing 15 of 23 for 144 yards. He ran for two touchdowns but Auburn was out-gained 509-340 in total yards.
However, Nix is playing some of the best football of his career, having completed 76.8% of his passes in the last two games.
Quarterback Zach Calzada enjoyed a breakout performance in the win over Alabama but has struggled in his last two games, completing just 51% of his passes against Missouri and South Carolina.
The Texas A&M run defense has been stout the past two games, limiting both foes to under 100 yards rushing.
The Aggies, meanwhile, rushed for 283 yards and 290 yards, respectively, in those contests.
The running game is going to be the difference in the matchup as if the Aggies can have the same success on the ground that they have had the last two weeks that will add another element to their offense.
Auburn ran for 207 yards on 46 attempts against Ole Miss last week and limited the Rebels to four yards per carry.
Replicating that against the Aggies won't be easy, as indicated by the prolific outing from Spiller and Achane in last year's meeting.
Nix is finding his stride as a passer, but getting Tank Bigsby going on the ground is necessary for Auburn's success.
This season Bigsby has run for 666 yards and seven touchdowns.
Another factor in the matchup is home-field advantage.
The Aggies will get a big advantage from their home crowd and that can help the team get a much-needed momentum boost when they need it.
It will be a close contest but the Aggies run game will be too much for the Tigers as Texas A&M captures its first win against Auburn at Kyle Field.
Alex Rocco is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org