Sorry for the long post...if TLDR, go to bottom...
I don’t post much but this one is perplexing, the teams seem close, so I did some stat comparisons (I’m not StatTiger, so TIFWIW)
Auburn has played 5 teams (PSU, LSU, UGA, ARK, OM) in the top 35 of ESPN’s FPI, A&M has played 3 (ARK, MSU, UAT). It seems the narrative is that A&M is better than AU talent-wise, especially up front. Will we be able to move the ball and slow them down or will we get steamrolled?
So I accumulated the stats from those games to see trends, ignoring the games against weak competition. (sidenote: their last two wins…Mizzou FPI is 81 and USCe is 82, so, is A&M really “trending up”?) Can’t ignore their win vs UAT and our loss to UGA, however. Anyway, the average of the FPI of our top 5 opponents and their top 3 opponents happens to be 20.
So here are the stats averaged from those games:
Points scored were 25 by us and 24 by them, points against us were 25 points against them 28.
Ground yards gained 147 avg 4.0 for us, 126 avg 4.8 for them
Ground yards allowed 141 avg 3.2 for us, 127 avg 3.6 for them
Passing yards gained 263 ypa 7.4 for us, 190 avg 6.8 ypa for them
Passing yards allowed 279 ypa 8.2 for us, 341 avg 8.3 ypa for them
Turnovers gained and lost averaged 1 for both teams and the highest net in any of those games was +-1, so not really a factor
Penalties against us 42 average (high 49/low 34) Penalties for us 39 (high 50/low 18)
Penalties against them 61 avg (high 75/low 50) Penalties for them 71 (high 82/low 65)
Our total yards gained minus given up running and passing vs the 5 opponents is negative 10. Our best was +95 vs LSU and worst -114 vs UGA
Their total yards gained minus given up running and passing vs their top 3 opponents is negative 152. Those are -171 vs ARK -141 vs MSU and -143 vs UAT. Note also they had a kickoff return for TD vs UAT, so that’s effectively substitutes for 75 yds of offense.
Penalties look to benefit us by maybe 25 yards, note that they were penalized 90 yards in their last game.
So, it appears that the run games net out about equal. The passing games do not appear equal. We give up about as many yards passing as we gain. They give up more than 150 yards more than they gain.
However, their passing D is skewed by 408 given up to MSU, but only allowing 30 on the ground.
So, all this analysis aside, two big questions regarding how each performed against “the best”.
1. Did we leave points on the field vs UGA and are we closer to that level than indicated? Most would say “yes”.
2. Was their win against UAT “legit”? My recollection of their game vs Alabama is of an impressive showing, but also one of several blown coverages by UAT, similar to UAT vs UT. UAT has youth in their DB’s. Plus, the kickoff return.
So, here’s my take…
1. Our passing game needs to continue to perform and exploit their weakness, this needs to lead to early points, take the crowd out of the game as much as possible. We don’t need to “establish the run” Gus style which means “hard headed”. Mix it up.
2. If our coverage can stay tight, their passing game is not remarkable and the pressure to keep up will hopefully lead to a key interception or two.
3. Wind isn’t forecasted to be a factor (light crosswind). Need all touchbacks.
4. Auburn has played a tougher schedule, so experience can make a difference. Couple their UAT win with two recent wins over terrible Mizzou and USCe and overconfidence is very possible. Auburn “still getting no respect” is a great motivator.
5. Turnovers and mistakes by us will most likely result in a loss, it’s just too much to overcome.
Auburn 30 A&M 24