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When the Aggies run

Texas A&M averaged 2 yards per carry against No. 1 Clemson earlier this season, and Auburn’s defensive line is better, led by defensive tackle Derrick Brown, a projected NFL first-round pick. Defensive end Marlon Davidson and linebacker Nick Coe also have NFL-level talent. Quarterback Kellen Mond’s mobility could be the X-factor and complement true freshman running back Isaiah Spiller, who had seven carries for 24 yards against Clemson. EDGE: AUBURN

When the Aggies pass

Auburn has eight sacks and 10 quarterback pressures but only one interception despite all that pressure. If the offensive line does an adequate job protecting Mond, the Aggies will have opportunities for big plays down field. EDGE: TEXAS A&M

When the Tigers run

Auburn will feature 210-pound back Jatarvious Whitlow running behind five senior linemen until A&M stops him. The Aggies did it last year and in the last two seasons have held every opponent under 150 yards rushing except LSU. The Tigers may try to mix in freshman Joey Gatewood, who is the team’s best running quarterback. Auburn converts third downs at 51% because of its running game, while A&M has held opponents to just 25% converting third downs. EDGE: EVEN

When the Tigers pass

Auburn will try to prevent true freshman quarterback Bo Nix from having to win the game with his arm. The Tigers’ receivers have been batting injuries, part of the reason their passing efficiency ranks only 109th in the country. Nix, who is completing only 52.5% of his passes, will be facing a much-improved pass defense. A&M has five interceptions and 11 quarterback pressures, though only five sacks. EDGE: TEXAS A&M

Special teams

Auburn’s Anders Carlson has hit 5 of 6 field goals, but the Tigers average almost 12 net yards less per punt than the Aggies, which could be huge if the game turns into the defensive struggle some expect. Auburn also has allowed 35.8 yards on five punt returns. A&M All-America punter Braden Mann, place-kicker Seth Small and punter returner Rashauud Paul might be worth a touchdown Saturday. EDGE: TEXAS A&M

Intangibles

This is the third meeting between A&M’s Jimbo Fisher and Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who both call their own offensive plays. The offenses are separated by a mere 1.7 yards through three games this season, adding to the intrigue. Fisher has a junior quarterback in Mond, while Malzahn has the less-experienced true freshman Nix. Fisher has won A&M’s last two big games at home, but Malzahn has never lost at Kyle Field. Fisher also will be matching wits with former Baylor head coach Kevin Steele, who is one of the best defensive coordinators in the business. EDGE: TEXAS A&M

AUBURN MUST

• Prevent the big play: Texas A&M’s offense has had only 16 plays gain 20 yards, 10 of them coming against Lamar of the FCS’ Southland Conference.

• Bring the pressure: A&M has six turnovers this year and Kellen Mond has 24 for his career.

• Stop the run: A&M’s top two running backs, Isaiah Spiller and Jacob Kibodi, have combined for 53 career carries. Put the clamps on them and A&M becomes one-dimensional.

TEXAS A&M MUST

• Get Mond’s best: Quarterback Kellen Mond needs to be the best offensive player on the field, which means no turnovers.

• Stop the run, too: This one seems simple, since that’s what the Aggies do best. But running is also what Auburn does best.

• Watch the ball: Auburn is a master at misdirection, which A&M can attest to in its four losses to the Tigers.

This article originally ran on theeagle.com.

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