Texas A&M wide receiver Ainias Smith (0) reacts with teammate Kenyon Green (55) after returning a punt 95 yards for a touchdown against South Carolina during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2021, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

CFB: Auburn at Texas A&M Preview

The 13th-ranked Auburn Tigers visit the Texas A&M Aggies this Saturday in a high-stakes 3:30 p.m. clash at College Station.

SEC Championship Implications

This matchup is essentially a gatekeeper. Whichever team comes out on top has a chance to compete with Alabama for the SEC West division and secure a spot in the conference championship game in Atlanta.

Georgia already clinched its spot out of the East division last week following a victory over Florida and a loss by Kentucky.

Winning five of their last six games, Auburn has been playing some of its best football and controls its own destiny. If the Tigers win out, including this weekend and the Iron Bowl against Alabama, they’ll hold the two loss tiebreaker over Bama and advance to the SEC Championship Game.

Although sharing the same 6-2 record, Texas A&M needs a little help in its pursuit to Atlanta. The Aggies need to win all of their remaining games and have Bama lose once more.

In that scenario, both the Crimson Tide and Aggies will sit at two losses. Because Texas A&M shocked the nation by defeating Alabama earlier this season, they would have a date with Georgia in the title game. It’s a lot to ask for, but it’s certainly not out of the picture.

Keys to the Game

Auburn will rely heavily on its rushing attack. However, junior quarterback Bo Nix needs to continue his stellar play and be at the top of his game.

Nix has had a solid season leading the Tigers offense. His numbers and overall performance won’t make your jaw drop, but he knows the ins and outs of SEC play. Every time he steps on the gridiron he is ready to engage in battle.

Zach Calzada has had an up and down season at quarterback for Texas A&M. At times he’s struggled to get anything going in the air, and at other times he’s displayed brilliance. He’ll have to be on the positive end of the spectrum if the Aggies want to hold off the surging Tigers.

The Outcome

With Texas A&M coming off a bye week well rested and playing in front of one of college football’s greatest home field advantages, the Aggies are currently 4.5 point favorites.

Nonetheless, this game can go either way. Don’t think for a second that Auburn is intimidated by hostile environments. The Tigers have wins on the road at Arkansas, Death Valley at LSU, and came very close at Penn State‘s annual White Out game. The 12th Man at Kyle Field should not startle them either.

A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher acknowledged that SEC teams like Auburn get used to playing in hostile environments on the road. But he’s calling on his Aggies squad to step up this weekend in order to get the 12th Man going.

The stakes are ever-so high in this even matchup. The winner keeps their SEC title dreams alive and the loser can start focusing with ending the season “on a high note.” It’s as simple as that.

About Ross Kaufman

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