No. 5 Texas A&M vs. Auburn
The fifth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium this weekend to face the Auburn Tigers, who have walked away victorious in this matchup each of the last three contests.
For the Jimbo Fisher-led Aggies, this game is incredibly significant. Texas A&M has a chance to make its first CFP appearance if they can manage to win their final three games (at Auburn, vs. Ole Miss, at Tennessee). Obviously it depends on what happens with Ohio State and the presumed ACC Championship between Clemson and Notre Dame, but it would be difficult to not put them in given the fact that they could follow their only loss to Alabama with eight straight conference wins.
On the opposite sideline, Gus Malzahn and the Tigers are coming off a brutal loss in the Iron Bowl to the Crimson Tide. Malzahn is looking for his third consecutive victory against Fisher and the Aggies after losing to him when he was with Florida State in the 2014 BCS National Championship Game. Here are a couple of matchups that should play a huge role in the outcome of the game:
WR Seth Williams vs CB Myles Jones
When Seth Williams catches four or more passes in a game, the Tigers are 4-1 on the season. It will be pivotal to Auburn’s success on offense to get him the ball. Williams is at his best when playing above the rim and making contested catches; however, he will have the occasional drop as you saw last week against Alabama. He has three touchdowns in two games against Texas A&M, tied for the most against one opponent in his career.
Cornerback Myles Jones is a very interesting prospect who is flying under the radar right now in terms of garnering NFL consideration. Standing at 6-4, Jones is not your traditional boundary corner. He has outstanding length and man-to-man coverage skills. In last season’s game, Jones and Williams did not face each other very often. Expect that to change this year.
QB Kellen Mond vs LB Owen Pappoe
One could argue that this game coming up is one of the most important when it comes to Kellen Mond’s future in the NFL. He is coming off one of his worst performances as quarterback for the Aggies and needs to bounce back in a big way if the Aggies are going to get the job done. Mond ranks fifth in the SEC with 16 TD and has improved greatly in taking care of the ball (2 INTs). Completion percentage is going to be a tough statistic for Mond to hurdle as he ranks 13th out of 16 SEC quarterbacks (59.3%).
Linebacker Owen Pappoe has his work cut out for him this week against the physicality of the Aggie offensive line, coined “The Maroon Goons.” Mond’s ability to tuck the ball and run will present Pappoe with another element of the Texas A&M offense he has to account for. Although he is only a sophomore, Pappoe has displayed why he is one of the best linebackers in the country. His ability to close on the ball and his instincts will make him one of the more coveted defensive players in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is tied for first in the SEC with 45 solo tackles.
No. 1 Alabama vs. LSU
After an epic battle in Tuscaloosa last season, the Tigers and the Tide face each other with much different circumstances. The Tigers are presented with a near impossible task as they are set to host this contest now without their star receiver Terrace Marshall Jr. after he decided to opt out following their loss to Texas A&M.
The Crimson Tide, on the other hand, have continued to roll on offense, averaging 48.5 PPG (first among Power 5 schools). Despite losing arguably the most explosive receiver in college football in Jaylen Waddle, Alabama has not missed a beat due to the stellar play of DeVonta Smith. Thus, here is the matchup to watch in this game:
WR DeVonta Smith vs CB Derek Stingley Jr.
It’s hard to argue that DeVonta Smith shouldn’t be in the Heisman conversation with the way he is performing this season. Below are his statistics and where he ranks through eight games:
72 receptions (third in NCAA)
1,074 receiving yards (third in NCAA)
12 TD (T-first in NCAA)
In the Tide’s last three contests, in which they have outscored their opponents, 146-16, Smith has 27 receptions for 518 yards and 8 TD.
Derek Stingley Jr. is one of the best pure cover corners that Smith will face this season. Statistically it has not been a great season for Stingley, as he has yet to record his first interception, but there is no denying he has elite ball skills for a defender.