Both Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin – head coaches for Auburn and Texas A&M, respectively – find themselves in a situation where a loss could cost either one their job.

Texas A&M opened the season against UCLA, where the Aggies blew a 28-point lead in the fourth quarter to lose to the Bruins, 45-44. In Week 4, the Aggies battled an inferior Arkansas team to an overtime victory.


The second loss of the season for Texas A&M came Oct. 7 against top-ranked Alabama, 27-19. On Saturday, the Aggies lost Mississippi State 35-14. The Tigers beat that same team 49-10 on Sept. 30.

Auburn lost Week 2 to the defending national champions Clemson in a close contest, giving up 11 sacks in the process. Auburn struggled the following week in a close win over FCS Mercer, too, in a game where turnovers plagued the offense.

Malzahn’s Tigers followed that game with four straight wins before blowing a 20-point lead to rival LSU on Oct. 14.

The similarities between the two coaches go beyond just this season, however. A failure to live up to expectations over the past few years is really why both are constants among the list of coaches on the proverbial “hot seat.”

Neither coach has won more than eight games in a season since 2013, nor has either coach beaten Alabama since their first years at the helm. Sumlin defeated No. 1 Alabama in 2012 en route to an 11-2 record. Malzahn knocked off a top-ranked Alabama in 2013, ultimately leading to a trip to the BCS National Championship game.

Texas A&M finished 9-4 in 2013 while Auburn finished 12-2. Since then, neither coach has finished better than 8-4.

Furthermore, both Malzahn and Sumlin have struggled against their rivals.

Texas A&M has never won against LSU during Sumlin’s time at the helm. And while the Aggies have beaten Arkansas every season, three of those contests went to overtime.

Under Malzahn, Auburn hasn’t beaten Alabama or Georgia since his first year, and the winless streak at LSU that dates back to 1999 has continued.


There’s even a trend in the outcome of contests between the Aggies and Tigers. Texas A&M has won every game at Jordan-Hare Stadium since it joined the SEC in 2012, while Auburn has claimed all the games at Kyle Field.

These similarities between the two head coaches are intriguing, especially as both head into a crucial November with their jobs potentially on the line.

Calls to fire Sumlin have died down since the early portion of the season, but they'll probably intensify again after Saturday. Malzahn’s seat warmed considerably after yet another loss in Baton Rouge.

Auburn comes out of its bye week facing the toughest portion of its schedule, beginning in College Station on Saturday. While the Tigers finish the season with a three-game home stand, they will host two of the top teams in the nation in No. 3 Georgia and No. 1 Alabama.

Malzahn needs to win at least three of the last four games to cool tensions among fans and administrators. Two of those wins probably need to be over the Aggies and Bulldogs.

All of this makes the matchup even more exciting to watch. While both the Tigers and Aggies feature explosive offenses and impressive athletes, the story lines on the sidelines put even more on the line.

If trends continue, it is Auburn’s turn to beat Texas A&M in a must-win contest for both coaches.