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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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

The Battalion

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Taming another team of Tigers

Photo by FILE

The Texas A&M football team will take on the No. 12 ranked Auburn Tigers at Kyle Field on Saturday, Nov. 6 with kickoff set for 2:30 p.m. 

Texas A&M and Auburn’s all-time series record currently sits at a tie; this weekend, one team must take the lead.
In a Southeastern Conference matchup where the home team has only ever won once, the No. 13 Aggies welcome the No. 12 Tigers back to Kyle Field this Saturday, Nov. 6.
“That’s why you come to A&M,” junior running back Isaiah Spiller said. “To play in games like these and play in moments like these. I feel like it is amping us up a bit more, just because everyone is watching, and we want to put on a good show.”
The Aggies, 6-2 overall and 3-2 in conference, are on a three-game win streak. The defense has been dominant, and their offense has begun to click for redshirt sophomore quarterback Zach Calzada. The Aggies have outscored their opponents by a margin of 120 to 66 over this stretch.
Calzada has begun to find his rhythm in A&M’s passing attack. Junior tight end Jalen Wydermyer had his biggest game of the year in Week 8 against South Carolina, catching four passes for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Ainias Smith has also scored in three straight games.
“We know that we still can do some amazing things,” Wydermyer said. “We haven’t reached our full potential, and we know that, so we’re working on that every week.”
A&M’s two-headed backfield has been the motor of the offense. Spiller and sophomore running back Devon Achane have eight 100-yard games between the two this season and have combined for over 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground and in the air.
The fourth-ranked scoring defense has been one of the strengths for the Aggies. In Week 8, the A&M defense didn’t allow a single point through the first three quarters and racked up two interceptions and three sacks. Senior defensive lineman Tyree Johnson ranks third in the SEC in sacks and continues to emerge as the season progresses. Johnson, who suffered an injury in the matchup with the Gamecocks, should be good to go, according to A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher, after getting a bye week to rest up.
“We needed a break,” Fisher said. “Eight weeks, that’s a lot of games. That’s a lot of bangs and bruises, and, you know, not just the physical strain, but the mental strain of preparing … I think it was good for them to get a week off.”
The Week 9 bye gave the maroon and white some much-needed rest. The extra week of preparation will prove valuable facing an Auburn team with consecutive wins over ranked opponents in Arkansas and Ole Miss.
“We’re going to have to play a great game,” Fisher said. “This is a very good football team, but, you know, I think we’re playing well, too.”
The Tigers, 6-2 and 3-1 in conference, have averaged nearly 35 points per game this season while allowing just under 20 points. Junior quarterback Bo Nix, a highly touted prospect and son of Auburn legend Patrick Nix, is having his most efficient year yet, with a career-high passer rating of 134.4 and just two interceptions in eight games.
The athletic Nix has found success under Bryan Harsin, who is in his first year as the team’s head coach after a stint at Boise State. Always a capable runner, Nix is posting a career high in completion percentage, at 62.2, and a lower turnover rate than in previous seasons.
“His effort — everything else you want from a player — it’s always been there,” Harsin said. “Now, as we go through it, guys around him … are just getting better at what we’re doing.”
One of the weak points in A&M’s defense has been its inability to defend against the run consistently. While the Aggies have seen improvements in recent weeks, matchups and game scripts may be an equally likely explanation. The improved run defense will be put to the test against Auburn, who ranks fifth in the SEC in rushing yards per game.
Auburn has two underclassman running backs pacing the team in carries, each with over 500 rushing yards this season on over five yards per carry. Sophomore Tank Bigsby has been running as his moniker suggests while freshman Jarquez Hunter has been a breakout player for the offense. The two have combined for 1,196 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.
The Tigers’ defense, while struggling to create turnovers, has averaged nearly three sacks a game. The defense is led by senior defensive back Roger McCreary, a skilled corner who leads the conference in pass breakups with eight. Three different defensive ends on the Tigers have four sacks this year as well: juniors Eku Leota and Derick Hall and sophomore Colby Wooden.
The top-15 showdown will take place in College Station. Kick off is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at Kyle Field.

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