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Texas A&M topples Auburn in a defensive struggle in front of record crowd

Offense was hard to find, but if you were looking for great defense, the Aggies supplied it in spades, dominating Auburn in the trenches

Auburn v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

The second largest crowd ever at College Station witnessed a true SEC throwback on Saturday as Texas A&M hosted Auburn. It was a combination of a defense-controlled game and two offenses who just plain couldn’t do much of anything all day. The play was as physical as it was ugly from start to finish, with each team leaving points on the field with chances to take the lead. It was Auburn, in the end, who didn’t just leave points on the field but gave points away that made the ultimate difference as the Aggies pulled away late to win 20-3.

It took until late in the third quarter, but Texas A&M took a 6-3 lead after they got within the 10 yard line before 20 penalty yards on three flags effectively ruined their touchdown chances. Also, Texas A&M starting quarterback Zach Calzada left with a shoulder injury on this drive. Though he returned to the game, it was all kinds of hideous. A&M would add another field goal on their following drive, making it 9-3.

We got the prototypical Bo Nix game. For a quarterback who’s made a name on making whacky and wild plays seemingly out of nothing, he needs everything to go perfectly around him in order to have any success. This, however, did not happen at any point, and Nix struggled mightily all game, culminating in the ultimate Bo Nix fashion.

Trailing 9-3 and needing a big play desperately, Auburn pulled out all the stops, attempting a flea flicker. However, Bo Nix fumbled it. Though it was recovered by Auburn, they weren’t so lucky on the next play. Nix rolled out right looking for a receiver, but Jayden Peevy stripped the ball from Nix, and Michael Clemons picked it up and took it to the house, effectively wrapping this one up. A&M converted on the two-point try, making it a 17-3 early in the fourth, and this is where the wheels fell off for Auburn.

Nix finished the game 20-of-41 for 153 yards and a pair of turnovers. That huge lost fumble returned for a touchdown and a late interception that sealed Auburn’s fate. Nix averaged a putrid 3.7 yards per pass attempt. Again, it was all bad for the Tigers offensively, failing to capitalize on any of the stops their defense provided them with.

Tank Bigsby and big play specialist Jarquez Hunter both struggled on the ground with Bigsby amassing 69 yards on 15 carries while Hunter touched the ball just four times for 14 yards.

As for the Aggies, things were a bit better offensively as they were able to provide a few huge chunk plays to aid their lack of consistency driving the ball down the field. Calzada wasn’t great, but he didn’t make any backbreaking mistakes like Nix did. He finished 15-of-29 for 192 yards, good for 6.6 yards per attempt, making a couple big throws on A&M’s field goal drives including a 49 yard bomb to Caleb Chapman.

Isaiah Spiller continued his wonderful season, adding 112 yards on 21 carries while his battery mate, Devon Achane, added 98 yards on 10 carries, including a 68 yard carry that ended with him fumbling. That would be A&M’s lone turnover, and Auburn failed to capitalize on it.

A&M’s defense consistently pressured Bo Nix, eventually forcing the game’s biggest play. This defense has been the unsung hero and hasn’t been talked about nearly enough. It’s a very good unit, and only because Georgia’s defense has been historically good do they not get their flowers. This unit is aggressive and flies to the ball, and overall they create a very unwelcoming environment for opposing offenses.

Texas A&M has won four in a row, including a pair of top-15 wins. They’ll roll into Oxford for another sure to be top-15 showdown against Ole Miss. As for Auburn, they’ll head home and look to rebound against Mississippi State.