Texas A&M will provide Auburn with its first challenge of the season, and most are expecting the home team to slide away with a victory. ESPN’s Matchup Predictor forecasts an Aggies win and the sportsbooks are favoriting Texas A&M by a touchdown.
When looking at the data, an Auburn upset seems more possible than what the experts believe. Texas A&M’s red zone defense favors packages that Auburn uses, Auburn’s run game can give the Aggies fits, and Tiger defensive backs will have a great opportunity to prove their worth.
Thursday, we examined all the reasons why Auburn could struggle in College Station. Today, it is time to showcase why the Tigers will kick off the SEC season with a 1-0 record.
Here are five reasons why Auburn can pull off a win over Texas A&M on Saturday.
The Kyle Field experience
There is something about Kyle Field that brings out the best in Auburn. The Tigers own a 4-1 record at Kyle Field since the Aggies joined the SEC in 2012. This season’s game is at the home of the 12th man… can history repeat itself?
The pass rush is too much to handle
Eugene Asante has proven to be Auburn’s best-kept secret and is set up to have his best game to date. In Texas A&M’s loss to Miami, the Hurricanes created 37 pressures, with 31 QB hurries. Asante is one of the top pass rushers on Auburn’s defense with a PFF grade of 79.8 and could make a name for himself in this game.
Auburn disrupts the passing game
This reason is also due to the Aggies’ passing game. Texas A&M has four receivers with over 100 yards logged this season, which will keep backs such as Jaylin Simpson, Kayin Lee, and DJ James busy. Simpson has pulled down three interceptions to this point in the season and could bring in a fourth this week. The pressure will intensify for Texas A&M if Donovan Kaufman returns to the lineup this week.
The rushing attack does its job
Sure, we have shared our concern about the lack of production from Jarquez Hunter through his two games… but Auburn’s rushing attack is the best in the SEC. Heading into week four, Auburn leads the SEC in yards per game with 215.67 rushing yards per contest, ten yards more than the next SEC program, Tennessee. Texas A&M, however, is one of the best in the nation at stopping the run by allowing just 98 yards per game on the ground.
The Aggies allowed 127 yards rushing to ULM last week, which is the most given up this season. Auburn’s running back room, mixed in with Robby Ashford and Payton Thorne, will be the most talented unit that Texas A&M has seen to this point, and they will play like it.
Finally, a big day upcoming for Auburn quarterbacks
Payton Thorne had a longer leash last week, and he used it to show off his running ability. Not only does Thorne show upside, but Robby Ashford could have a great day as well. His “red zone package” could come in handy against Texas A&M, who has allowed opponents to score on 85% of red zone trips.