Two losses to teams from the same state, in the same stadium, with a similar score. Texas A&M won’t be going anywhere significant this season apparently, as Johnny Manziel couldn’t overcome a bad defense and porous offensive line, while Auburn surprisingly find themselves as the second best team in the division.
With a 45-41 win over the Aggies, Auburn are now 6-1, getting a second win over a ranked team and validating the turnaround job done by head coach Gus Malzahn, picking up the pieces from the Gene Chizik era, that ended last season after the Tigers failed to win a single conference game.
Manziel did finish with 454 passing yards and four touchdown passes, but he was only intercepted twice. He also ran for 48 yards on 18 carries, scoring a touchdown, but there’s a limit to what he can do, missing a series in the fourth quarter with an injury that clearly affected him in the closing minutes of the game. He had a chance to give A&M the win, but was sacked on fourth down with 11 seconds to go at the Auburn 21, which effectively ended the game. Manziel connected with Mike Evans (who else) for the fourth touchdown passes, as the receiver finished with 287 yards on 11 receptions to go with his four scores.
For Auburn, Nick Marshall had a big day as well. He completed only 11 of his 23 passes, but two of them went for touchdowns, while he added 100 more yards on the ground, adding two more touchdowns. Unlike Manziel, he didn’t throw any interceptions, which might be where this game was decided.
More likely it was about the defense, as Texas A&M simply don’t have the unit that was so good last season. This year Manziel is forced to score on almost every possession, especially against good competition, making it impossible for him to try and take a drive “off” and rely on the mediocre running game for once. The protection around him isn’t the same as well, so it’s not that much of a surprise the Aggies are out of the running before the end October, losing twice at home to teams from Alabama.
As for Auburn, they made the most of that weak protection around Manziel, battering him without relent, even injuring him at one point. They turned two first-half interceptions of Manziel into 10 points, sacking him three times during the game, making him feel quite uncomfortable for large portions of the game.
You have to try to bottle up the guy. He’s phenomenal when things break down. In the fourth quarter, when he came back, I thought we were a little bit fresher there, and we made the two big plays toward the end.
Auburn had their biggest moment of the game on their final offensive drive, going 75 yards in on 13 plays in less than four minutes to come back from three points down and win the game. They mostly ran on that drive, finishing with 379 yards on the ground. It might not be enough to break the top 10 in the crazy BCS standing we’re about to receive, but thanks to this win the Tigers position themselves as the number one opposition to the undefeated Alabama team.