Will Sahlie, sports editor
A bye week could not have come for a better time for Auburn.
The Tigers are as healthy as they have been this season, outside of Kamryn Pettway, and that should be a big advantage for Auburn this weekend.
Texas A&M ranks about average in the SEC throughout every category on both sides of the ball. Although the Aggies could find Auburn looking ahead to next weekend's matchup against No. 1 Georgia, this should be a game the Tigers should handle.
Texas A&M allowed big play after big play last weekend at Kyle Field vs. Mississippi State, and Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham will have similar opportunities for explosive plays that Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald succeeded with. If Stidham can hit on a few plays over the top of the Aggie defense, it could be a long morning and early afternoon for the home team.
Kerryon Johnson will continue to be one of the most impressive backs in the SEC in the absence of Pettway, and the Auburn defense will show what a week off can do.
Score prediction: Auburn 34, Texas A&M 17
Nathan King, assistant sports editor
If there was any team for the Auburn backfield to be slim for, it's Texas A&M.
The Aggies rank near the bottom of the conference in run defense, a 2017 trend that Heisman hopeful Kerryon Johnson will hope to exploit and turn into a method of victory for No. 14 Auburn on Saturday.
To complement Johnson, quarterback Jarrett Stidham seemed in a better groove against Arkansas than his inept second half showing against LSU. Stidham will play in Aggieland with a little extra motivation: the Baylor transfer hails from the Lone Star State.
Texas A&M's quarterback situation is more of a debacle, as starter Kellen Mond was pulled from last week's loss to Mississippi State with an injury, replaced by Week 1 starter Nick Starkel, who played well in Mond's absence. Expect Kevin Sumlin to be desperate for a quick start against the Tigers, even if that means hastily pulling Mond if the freshman doesn't produce early.
Kevin Steele's defense is led by arguably the best pass rusher in the conference, outside linebacker Jeff Holland. Holland and his D-line have a chance to disrupt pass protection in a similar fashion to their 52-20 win over Arkansas, where Razorbacks QB Cole Kelley was tormented all night, leading to SEC weekly honors for Holland and DE Nick Coe.
There is no reason Auburn should lose this one. Looking ahead to its date with No. 1 Georgia might lead to A&M playing it close early, but expect Johnson to run rampant and Stidham to find another efficient performance.
Score prediction: Auburn 38, Texas A&M 21.
Tyler Roush, sports reporter
The road team has won each meeting between these two teams since 2012, and there's no reason to believe anything different this time around.
Texas A&M will be starting true freshman Kellen Mond, a four-star recruit who initially played in San Antonio prior to transferring to IMG Academy, Florida, and Mond is doing all the things a quarterback should be doing in his first year.
Inconsistency combined with mobility can be a recipe for disaster for first-years, and Mond is showing that thus far.
Quarterback Jarrett Stidham will have an opportunity to show out against a regularly top-tier SEC defense, and the Auburn defense will have plenty more to shut down the Aggie offense.
Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn predicted his 2017 squad would win out following its loss to Louisiana State University.
And there's no reason to believe he won't get started in College Station.
Score prediction: Auburn 35 Texas A&M 17
Sumner Martin, sports writer
Saturday's showdown in College Station is a must-win for both coaches.
Kevin Sumlin and the Aggies fell to 5-3 after an embarrassing performance at home against Mississippi State, leaving Texas A&M faithful with a similar feeling of disappointment in the month of November.
Gus Malzahn and the Tigers were able to brush Arkansas aside with no problem last week, but Auburn fans are still thinking of the heartbreaking collapse at LSU, and that feeling likely won't go away unless Malzahn gets a win against rivals Georgia or Alabama. Needless to say, he can't afford to lose to Texas A&M if he wants to keep his job.
The key matchup of the game will be Texas A&M's star wide-out Christian Kirk against Auburn's secondary. The Tigers' secondary has been shaky of late, and Kirk is one of the most explosive players in the country. If Auburn can keep him in check, then the Aggies will have a hard time moving the ball, but if Kirk has his way in the open field, the Aggies could keep it close enough to pull an upset late.
However, Texas A&M doesn't have many other options other than Kirk. Quarterback Kellen Mond, as well as the Aggie ground attack, both have been struggling and Auburn has one of the best defensive fronts in the country, led by SEC sacks leader Jeff Holland.
Texas A&M's defense is not strong, and Auburn is averaging about 36 points per game. The Aggie defense has given up an average of 234 yards on the ground over the last three weeks, and even without Kamryn Pettway, Kerryon Johnson should be able to carry the Tigers. I don't think Texas A&M has a good enough offense this year to be able to outscore the Tigers.
Score Prediction: Auburn 45, Texas A&M 21
Peter Santo, sports writer
With games against the top two teams in the country looming, this game screams potential trap game for the Tigers. The rowdy atmosphere at Kyle Field could be a problem for Auburn, but the road team has won each matchup between these two teams dating back to 2012.
The Aggies are coming off a demoralizing home loss to Mississippi State, and appear to be heading towards another disappointing finish. Kevin Sumlin's job could be on the line.
Auburn is looking to finish the season strong and perhaps enter the SEC championship and College Football Playoff discussion. Jarrett Stidham and company are coming off a strong performance at Arkansas, and should score plenty of points on the Aggies' reeling defense. Auburn will certainly feel the loss of Kamryn Pettway, but look for Kerryon Johnson to cement his position as one of the SEC's best running backs.
Texas A&M will start true freshman Kellen Mond. Mond has the ability to make plays with his feet, and mobile quarterbacks have given the Auburn defense some trouble this year. But Mond has shown his inexperience so far this season, struggling mightily in his last two games.
Look for the Auburn defense to put on a show once again and lead the Tigers to a road victory that will set the stage for the season's final stretch.
Score Prediction: Auburn 34, Texas A&M 17
Bennett Page, sports writer
In the first week after the College Football Playoff rankings initial release, Auburn is in a position to take a dark-horse route into the playoff. That all begins with taking care of business against a reeling Texas A&M team. With two losses, Auburn has the opportunity to beat a No. 1 Georgia team, a No. 2 Alabama team, and then take on that Georgia team again. Seeing an opportunity to get into the playoff should be motivation for the Tigers going into College Station.
With how effective Auburn's defense has been this year, the passing game of Kellen Mond shouldn't hurt the Tigers at all. The pass rush for the Tigers, led by Jeff Holland, will be able to put pressure on the freshman quarterback and rack up at least three or four sacks. I expect Auburn to stay balanced on offense, with at least 250 rushing yards and 250 passing yards. Jarrett Stidham will use his legs more after showing off his mobility against Arkansas, and Kerryon Johnson will get into the end zone at least twice with Kamryn Pettway out. As long as Auburn's offense doesn't shut down in the second half like it did against LSU, this should be a blow-out. It could also end up as a loss for the Tigers. If that happens, and Auburn loses to Georgia and Alabama later in the season as well, Malzahn will likely lose his job at the end of the season.
This shouldn't be a difficult game for the Tigers, and as long as the offense stays clicking throughout the game, it won't be close.
Score Prediction: Auburn 48, Texas A&M 17