Saturday’s clash between SEC sides Auburn and Texas A&M was a complete defensive show. In fact, the only touchdown made was a defensive score for the latter. It was a pretty decisive one as it saw the Aggies triumph via a 20-3 scoreline.
Auburn, the No.13-ranked team, made several mistakes and seemed to be completely out of it. Quarterback Bo Nix was the one who dropped the ball that Texas A&M defensive end Michael Clemons picked up for the touchdown that really swung the game the Aggies’ way.
Nix had the sort of game that you just don’t see from him that often and, given the opposition’s relentless defense, it was always going to be a long contest for the Tigers, who failed to score a single TD.
Auburn is 6-3 on the back of the loss and 3-2 in the SEC. Texas A&M now boasts a 7-2 record (3-2 in the SEC) and the Tigers will need them to lose in order for them to get back to the top spot in the division, having been in control of their destiny prior to the loss. The college football odds are likely to foster much activity based on this alone.
The Aggies were not all that better than the Tigers on offense. It just wasn’t that type of game. The teams were tied at 3-3 heading into the half and some would say it’s reminiscent of games from 15 years ago as both sides put on a defensive clinic.
The first quarter of the contest was over quickly as long drives disturbed the commercial breaks. The Tigers got nothing out of their first possession, however. They went backward and were forced to punt after picking up a couple of first downs while A&M went on a long drive that ate up 80 yards and 14 plays. The Aggies scored a field goal to break the deadlock from inside the five-yard line.
The Tigers matched this with a 14-play segment of their own before tying things up at 3-3 with a field goal right before the end of the quarter. Both teams then alternated punts three times each before A&M appeared to have the edge closer to the end of the second period. Auburn got zero points from a pair of drives originating from midfield.
A&M reached Auburn’s 24-yard line before the end of the quarter but kicker Seth Small, recently named a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, missed a 41-yard field goal that would have otherwise changed the score going into halftime. Small became the Aggies record field goal scorer with the 21-yard score he pulled off in the first quarter, though, passing Randy Bullock as the man who’s scored the most field goals in an A&M uniform.
Auburn got a first down after getting the ball back following the missed kick, with Nix finding John Samuel Shenker with a pass. But that would be all as they would have to punt for the fourth straight drive.
The Tigers ended up being flagged for a holding penalty before halftime, canceling any chance of a score before the end of the first half.
Auburn set their opponents back on a three-and-out and had an opportunity to get the upper hand as they went on an impressive drive in the opening phase of the third period. Nix made completions to Shenker and Luke Deal yet they got nothing out of it as Anders Carlson kicked a 33-yard field goal wide to the right.
The Aggies got 68 yards on their next possession with 10 plays. Small scored another field goal, kicking from 29 yards out. Another three-and-out saw the Tigers pegged further back as Small kicked from 48 yards out to give A&M a six-point lead at 9-3.
Auburn needed a touchdown after that but Nix couldn’t come up with the goods. He had to toss the ball away for safety after dropping and recovering. He wasn’t as lucky on the next play due to Clemons scooping up his drop and running back 24 yards for the first TD of the game, much to the ire of the Tigers fans. Zach Calzada was successful on the two-point conversion that gave A&M a 17-3 lead.
Auburn’s next drive also resulted in a punt and the Aggies nearly got another TD off Devin Achane’s run. Achane, though, fumbled after running 68 yards and Roger McCrary recovered to hand Auburn a bit of hope. They didn’t even get into Aggies territory on the possession, however, falling short on fourth down near midfield and giving the ball away.
A&M would settle things with another field goal for a 20-3 score before kneeling out the win.