Texas A&M came to Jordan-Hare Stadium and ended a three game losing streak against Auburn, prevailing today 31-20.
From the first drive of the game, the Aggies set the tone, driving straight down the field and taking a 7-0 lead. Auburn would actually manage to take a lead that got to as many as six points in the third quarter, although that seemed to come completely against the flow of play. The Tigers were up 20-14 with 4:16 left in the third quarter after kicker Anders Carlson made a 24-yard field goal.
However, Texas A&M would outscore Auburn 17-0 in the 4th quarter, which led to the eventual 31-20 victory for the Aggies. The eleven point margin of victory for A&M was actually probably a little bit closer than the contest actually was. The Auburn defense never came close to stopping A&M, and the Tigers’ offense underwhelmed on the day as well. Overall, it was a well-deserved loss for Auburn.
Take a below at the three factors that ultimately led to Texas A&M’s 31-20 win over the Tigers.
A&M Offensive line dominates
The Texas A&M offense line was by far the best unit on the field today. The Aggies O-Line cleared the way for backs to rush for 313 yards on 6.7 yards per carry and only allowed one sack on 23 pass attempts. There were multiple run plays where Aggie linemen opened tractor-trailer sized holes for backs to exploit.
Auburn’s defensive front did not come close to stalemating the Aggies on many individual plays, much less on the whole for the day. The reality that A&M could line up and run straight over, around, and through the Tigers’ defense gave very little hope for Auburn to earn a win today.
Auburn’s defensive front was expected to take a step back from last year’s stellar group, but they were the limiting factor in Auburn’s loss against the Aggies.
No answer for Jalen Wydermeyer
Aggies’ sophomore tight end Jalen Wydermeyer was a matchup nightmare for Auburn today. The 6-5, 255-pound phenom was an effective blocker in the Aggies’ big day on the ground and was also their primary target in the passing game. Wydermeyer caught a 10-yard touchdown pass to start the scoring for the A&M and also scored on a tipped pass that put the Aggies ahead 21-20 in the fourth quarter.
Even aside from the touchdowns, Wydermeyer was able to consistently get open against linebackers and safeties to pick up critical catches to keep drives alive all day. There is no easy answer for how to defend a man that big and athletic, but Auburn certainly didn’t provide one today until it was too late.
Wydermeyer is a great example of how big a mismatch a good tight end can be, and hopefully the Tigers took some notes for how to use them effectively in the future.
The big break that wasn’t
The Auburn defense struggled to stop Texas A&M all day. It was apparent from the first drive that the Aggies were able to get positive yardage every time they ran the ball and were planning on giving quarterback Kellen Mond easy, low-risk pass attempts. That plan and formula were extremely effective all day.
That is why what happened with 13:31 remaining in the fourth quarter was so painful. Following a third down conversion for A&M down to the Auburn 20 yard-line (which may have actually been an incompletion but was never reviewed), Kellen Mond finally made the bad decision that Auburn was looking for all day.
Mond tried to force a pass down the seam to Jalen Wydermeyer, only for Tigers’ linebacker Zakoby McClain to step right in front of the ball for a surefire interception. Improbably, McClain merely deflected the ball instead of an interception, and it careened straight into the hands of Wydermeyer for a touchdown.
There is no way to know what would have happened had McClain held on for the interception, but it would have taken seven points off the board for the Aggies and could have led to more points for the Tigers.
Everyone who watches football knows that the oblong-shaped ball takes strange bounces, and today it went in the Aggies’ favor with just over 13 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Zack Shaw is a contributing writer for Yellowhammer News and former walk-on for the Auburn Tigers. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @z_m_shaw