Auburn’s final home conference game comes up today against Texas A&M, and there’s little doubt that we’re going probably going to be on the edge of our seats again.
Nobody can really figure this matchup out. I’ve yet to see any number that cracks the code on what’s going to happen, and any fact that seems to come close just ends up being disregarded by some other stat that goes the other way. Texas A&M is bad at giving up big plays. Sweet! Well, Auburn isn’t good at making big plays. Oh. Texas A&M is bad at red zone defense. Score! Auburn still can’t really score much in the red zone. Ah.
Forget the numbers and the deep dive in that regard. This SEC West rivalry doesn’t have much of a history, but every year has produced something unexpected. The home team has never won, that’s obvious. But it’s not like the road teams were big favorites every time either. It’s just a game that’s tough to figure out. There’s not one single, solitary key to look at that’ll tell you the outcome.
What you can look at is the fact that opposing quarterbacks have looked good against A&M. That bodes well for Jarrett Stidham. Texas A&M’s offense has just as much trouble scoring in the red zone as their defense does stopping teams in the red zone. Not a problem for Auburn’s defense at all. There are a couple of strength-on-weakness matchups that go in Auburn’s favor here, and the same things that always hold true will still be that way today in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Turnovers are the theme of the three losses this season, and if Auburn keeps a clean sheet (one turnover or less) then they’ve got about a 90% likelihood to win. If Boobee Whitlow is healthy and can provide some solid run support, then that percentage goes up even higher. It’s still football, even if this series has been a little weird the past several years.
And while this may be a pivotal game for Auburn in terms of Gus Malzahn’s future, let’s focus on that only if the Tigers lose. Kick the can down the road, so to speak. If he wins and redeems some of the bad taste from earlier this year then we look ahead to next week’s game in Athens for more redemption. It may still be that we end up with a new coach in 2019, but none of us know that for sure until the trigger is pulled.
Right now the only focus is Texas A&M. Beat the Aggies, get bowl eligible, and show Georgia that they’ve got something to worry about after Kentucky takes the East from them. War Eagle!