No. 5 Texas A&M aims to stay in playoff hunt vs. Auburn
One could say that No. 5 Texas A&M’s normally high-powered offense was a lot like the weather in last week’s game against LSU — all wet.
Playing for the first time after a two-week layoff because of COVID-19 postponements, the Aggies struggled to produce points against a struggling defense. But their defense picked up the slack and enabled them to get by on something far from their best night, resulting in a 20-7 win.
Texas A&M hopes to look more like itself when it travels to Auburn on Saturday in search of an authoritative win that will keep it in the hunt for a spot in January’s College Football Playoff semifinals.
At 6-1, the Aggies need to win out and hope for someone in front of them to lose. The possibility also exists that current No. 4 Ohio State could eliminate itself by not being able to play one of the last two regular-season games, which would leave it below the minimum six-game threshold the Big Ten Conference set to play in its championship game.
If A&M can finish out a 10-game SEC schedule, the committee could look more kindly upon a longer body of work. But coach Jimbo Fisher hopes the updated resume as of Saturday afternoon includes a crisper effort by his offense.
“Way too inconsistent,” he said of the offense against LSU. “We didn’t block well up front, we didn’t protect the quarterback, he took a lot of hits. We still missed some throws we should have made, quite a few thtrrows.
“We didn’t get a rhythm going offensively, but our team found ways to win the game and that is what’s important. Our defense kept raising its game.”
The Aggies gave up just 267 yards against the Tigers and came within 43 seconds of pitching a shutout. The defense permitted LSU to convert just 2 of 16 on third down and even helped out with the scoring, as Buddy Johnson returned an interception 15 yards for a third-quarter touchdown.
As for Auburn (5-3), its hopes of a season-saving win at No. 1 Alabama ended fairly quickly last week in a 42-13 defeat. It was 21-3 by the middle of the second quarter, and the Tigers never found the end zone until a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Bo Nix with 4:39 left in the game.
However, Nix said the too-little, too-late score gave Auburn something to take out of the one-sided affair.
“It shows how we did keep fighting,” he said. “Even though the scoreboard wasn’t in our favor, we continued to try to move the ball and go down and score and we did that. I’m proud of the way our guys fought.”
A fair question for the Tigers might be what’s left to accomplish, given that high preseason expectations will result in no better than a 7-3 record to take to their bowl game.
“We’ve got two games left,” coach Gus Malzahn said. “This is an unusual season. We’ll need to rebound like we did earlier in the season.”
–Field Level Media