When the clock hit 00:00, Texas A&M headed to the locker room with a bit of a strut in their step. Auburn walked to their locker room in a daze with many of the War Eagle fans beginning to make their exits. The Aggies had gained 464 yards of offense in a 42-7 blowout. Now most people would read those sentences and believe it was a summation of an entire ballgame. On Saturday night, the above statement only explained half of what took place at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
After three weeks of four-quarter nail biters that surely created some gray hairs for Aggie fans, Texas A&M put out their most complete performance to date and thoroughly dominated the Auburn Tigers, 63-21. And after an emotional just-miss against LSU, the Ags looked like they followed the 24-hour rule just fine.
On the offensive side, A&M took this weekend to answer any questions that were raised following their letdown against LSU. The Aggies committed zero turnovers, just three penalties (two of which came from back-to-back holding calls), and—excluding a end-of-half field goal attempt—scored a touchdown on every possession until halfway through the third quarter. While the Tigers have only won a single game all year, they’ve taken most of their opponents down to the wire, including a near-upset against LSU. Saturday night though, Auburn faced an Aggie squad clicking on all cylinders and had no answers on how to stop it, specifically the running game.
A&M’s rushing attack had its most success this season with 352 yards on the ground. At halftime, the Ags were on pace to have four 100-yard rushers and probably would have succeeded if they played the entire game. From the first whistle, Kliff Kingsbury must have wrote in his script that they would not be denied in the ground game. The three-headed monster of Ben Malena, Christine Michael and Trey Williams never looked more deadly, gaining 247 yards between the three.
Passing-wise, Johnny Manziel looked crisp, efficient and showed no signs of a LSU hangover, going 16-23 for 260 yards and two touchdowns in a little over one half’s play. As the freshman quarterback continues to amaze, he also continues to progress into a better quarterback each game. He can attribute much of that to his offensive line, led by junior tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews. Case and point, during the ESPNU broadcast, Mel Kiper had moved Joeckel up his big board DURING the game. If Saturday was a sign that the offense has officially found its rhythm, the timing could not be better now that Mississippi State and Alabama await these next two weeks.
Defensively, while there were no takeaways, Auburn did not earn a first down until midway into the second quarter. By and large, since the shootout against Louisiana Tech, Mark Snyder and company have stepped up immensely in the last two weeks. With an offense that works on getting into a rhythm, the defense helped keep the rhythm in sync by forcing multiple three and outs. When the Tigers finally put points on the board, the game was already out of reach in the first half.
While the Aggies took care of business against a reeling Auburn squad, they will once again face the test of going up against big-time talent with Mississippi State and Alabama in the next two weeks. Despite putting up over 650 yards for the third time this year, the question this week will still be “Can they be successful against a formidable opponent?” The Bulldogs in Starksville were humbled this last weekend against the Crimson Tide, but still hold one of the best defensive backfields in the nation and will be a tough matchup for the Ags. Close calls against Florida and LSU prevented A&M from taking a step up into elite status but the next two weeks provide yet another opportunity for the Aggies to show that they belong with the best in the country.