Auburn faces off with a top five opponent for the second straight week when they welcome the fifth ranked Texas A&M Aggies to Jordan-Hare Stadium for an 11 a.m. kickoff on Saturday December 4. The Aggies (6-1) enter with playoff aspirations, a five game winning streak, and a chance to beat the Tigers for the first time since 2016. Meanwhile for the Tigers, the game serves as a chance to play spoiler against a rival and to add a marquee win to a season which has largely been devoid of them.
The Aggies average 31.4 points a game on offense led by quarterback Kellen Mond and running back Isaiah Spiller. Mond is a veteran dual threat quarterback who Auburn recruited quite heavily coming out of high school. Spiller has averaged nearly six yards a carry while rushing for 777 yards this season. The Aggies have been extremely balanced on offenses this year averaging 185.3 yards rushing and 233.1 yards passing per game over their first seven games of the season. The Texas A&M offensive line has only allowed 3 sacks all season, which equates to 0.43 sacks allowed per game. This mark ranks fourth nationally. So, it will be a tall task for the Tigers to bring the heat on Kellen Mond. On the defensive side of the ball, Texas A&M ranks 25th nationally allowing 22.4 points per game. Linebacker Buddy Johnson is the leader on that side of the ball with 66 total tackles. The Aggies defense has recorded 19 sacks. Coach Gus Malzahn called the Aggie's defensive front "very disruptive" during his weekly press conference, so clearly A&M's defensive line has stood out to Auburn on film.
Auburn has continued to deal with a litany of injuries. Tank Bigsby, D.J. Williams, Brodarious Hamm, and Jaylin Simpson are all questionable for this week's game. Meanwhile, starting left tackle Alec Jackson underwent surgery on his injured hand meaning Austin Troxell will make his second straight start at left tackle. After getting the running game going on offense throughout the season, Auburn struggled last week in the Iron Bowl to get that part of their offense going. If Bigsby and Williams are unable to go, it will be up to Shaun Shivers and Mark Antony-Richards to revive the rushing attack against the Aggies stout front seven. In two career games against the Aggies, Seth Williams has caught three touchdown passes. Included among those three was the game winner in 2018. On the other side of the ball, the Auburn defense will look to rebound from their worst game of the season; however, most team's worst defensive performance comes against the Crimson Tide so that isn't necessarily a cause for concern.
Another storyline in the game is it is senior day on the plains. Of course with the new COVID-19 eligibility rules, all Auburn's seniors will have the option to return, but the team will certainly want to send those who are leaving out with a win.
The Auburn Tigers had a rough start to the season, not to mention the year. A worldwide pandemic has put a damper on the collegiate season as a whole, and to add onto that their star player was forced to sit for 11 games. But with Sharife Cooper finally on the court, what has he brought to the table for the Tigers?