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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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5 things to look for as Aggies host Auburn

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Photo by Photo by Megan Cusick

On Saturday, Nov. 6, the Texas A&M football team will host the No. 12 ranked Auburn Tigers following a bye week. The Aggies will be looking to break the 10-year at home losing streak. 

Texas A&M football returns from its bye week to host No. 12 Auburn in the conference matchup of the century.
Here are the five things to look for ahead of the matchup.
Fourth down stops
On Saturday, Oct. 30, the Tigers stopped Ole Miss on three fourth-down conversions, all in the red zone. Midway through the fourth quarter, sophomore cornerback Jaylin Simpson intercepted a pass thrown by junior quarterback Matt Corral to force the Rebels’ fifth turnover of the night and secure the Tigers’ victory.
Auburn is currently fourth in the nation on fourth down stoppage with a .235 conversion percentage. The Aggies will need to punt on fourth down this Saturday rather than giving the Tigers good field position if the maroon and white hope to keep the momentum on their side.
“Those were critical moments in the game that we were able to win,” Auburn head coach Bryan Harsin said. “When you are playing against a team that scores a lot of points, that’s their mentality. We needed to have that same mindset going into this game to stop them on fourth downs.”
Run heavy, run a lot
Last Saturday, Auburn sophomore running back Tank Bigsby had a huge game at home. He had 140 yards on 23 carries and picked up a touchdown late in the first quarter.
However, the Aggies’ dynamic duo of running backs had an even more impressive performance the last time it stepped onto the field. Sophomore running back Devon Achane led the Aggies in rushing yards with 154 on 20 carries and a touchdown. Junior running back Isaiah Spiller followed right behind with 102 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown as well.
Expect a heavy dose of running from Bigsby and Spiller, with both ranking in the top five in the SEC in rushing yards.
“[Spiller and Achane] are both very natural running backs,” A&M coach Jimbo Fisher said following the victory over South Carolina. “They understand the blocking schemes, when the fronts come up and have good eyes. It’s a great one-two punch.”
Experience at wideout
Auburn is currently ranked sixth in the SEC in passing yards and passing yards per game, and the credit goes to the experience the team has in its wide receivers this year.
Graduate transfer out of Georgia, Demetris Robertson, leads the Tigers in receiving yards with 367 and averages 14.1 yards per catch this season. Despite only having one touchdown, senior Shedrick Jackson is second on the team in total receiving yards with 304 on 24 catches and will be another player to look out for come Nov. 6.
With three of their four cornerbacks in their freshman season, the Aggies will need to be on their toes in the secondary if they hope to stop this experienced receiving corps.
Retired NFL cornerback and now-A&M cornerback coach Antonio Cromartie has prepared the secondary for the upcoming matchup against Auburn, junior safety Demani Richardson said.
“[Cromartie is] a great coach,” Richardson said. “He has been in our shoes, and he gives us information that can help us with footwork and technique.”
Tied at five
In the history of this matchup, the overall record is 5-5, with A&M winning the last matchup in Auburn with a score of 31-20. A&M junior tight end Jalen Wydermeyer was the star of the show as he led the Aggies in receiving yards with 89, with eight catches and two touchdowns. The ground game was equally as impressive as Spiller and Achane combined for 220 yards on 29 carries.
On a less fortunate note for the Aggies, they are 0-4 at home versus the Tigers and will look to pick up their first win at Kyle Field this Saturday.
Battle at the bottom
This conference matchup will feature a pair of quarterbacks who have struggled to find the open man.
Auburn’s junior quarterback Bo Nix sits at eighth in the SEC in completion percentage, completing 62.2 percent of his passes, whereas sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada is last in the SEC with a 55.3 completion percentage.
When it comes to passer rating, the results do not look any prettier. Nix is 10th in the conference with a 134.4 quarterback rating, and Calzada is next-to-last in the SEC with a 122.7 total QBR.
Wydermyer said Calzada has developed as a a player significantly since the beginning of the season.
“He has definitely improved on his accuracy,” Wydermyer said. “He has grown so much and has become more comfortable in the pocket throwing the ball.”

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