The Tigers hit the road following a 45-13 victory over Samford to take on the 2-1 Texas A&M Aggies.
Texas A&M has the better record against the Tigers at 12-9. This will be Auburn's first conference game, and it comes at one of the toughest places to play, at Kyle Field. However, Auburn has had its fair share of success at Kyle Field, winning in College Station four out of the five times the Tigers have traveled to College Station.
Auburn's victory last week saw Payton Thorne throw for over 200 yards and rush for over 100 yards, marking the first time an Auburn quarterback has done that since Nick Marshall in 2014.
Texas A&M comes into this matchup with a 2-1 record. The Aggies bounced back from a loss to Miami, with a blowout victory over Louisiana Monroe 47-3 last Saturday.
The Aggies come in to Saturday's matchup with a high-octane offense after hiring offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino last offseason. Currently they average 337.3 passing yards per game while averaging a little over three touchdown passes per game.
On the ground, the Aggies are averaging just under 130 rushing yards per game and two touchdowns per game.
The Aggies' offense has looked good this year, but the defense is surrounded by question marks. While the Aggies defense looked lights out versus lesser competition, the issue occurred when the Aggies made a trip to Miami to play the Miami Hurricanes. Although Texas A&M's defense has been stout the last few seasons, the Aggies allowed 374 yards passing and five touchdowns against the Hurricanes.
The last time these two teams played was in Auburn in a game that had former Auburn running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams as interim head coach. Auburn won 13-10 as the electric atmosphere at Jordan-Hare Stadium helped carry Auburn to a victory.
With that being said, here are the players to watch for for Saturdays competition.
Players to Watch
Payton Thorne (QB)
Thorne will look to recreate what he did last week and create plays and opportunities using his legs. The big question for this game will be if Thorne can limit his turnovers. So far this season, he has four touchdown passes to three interceptions, and in last week's successful outing, Thorne's performance came with a pair of interceptions. Auburn will look to win the turnover battle to help win the game.
Eugene Asante (LB)
Asante transferred in from North Carolina and has made an impact for the Tiger defense. He was one of the main factors in helping lead Auburn to victory over California. In that victory, Asante had 12 tackles, with nine of those being solo tackles, alongside a sack. The Tigers will need Asante to continue to be a game changer on defense, as Auburn will be facing a high powered offense.
Jaylin Simpson (S)
Simpson will have his hands full this weekend facing the passing attack of the Aggies. Simpson has had a stellar season so far with three interceptions in three games and has become pivotal in the stout Tiger defense. His three interceptions is the most he has had in a season.
Conner Weigman (QB)
The Aggie starting quarterback has been great to start the season with eight touchdowns to two interceptions on the season so far. In the loss to Miami, Weigman still had 336 yards passing and two touchdowns, however, he had two interceptions. Outside of that, he is completing 70% of his passes and has over 900 yards passing. Weigman looks to continue his hot start but will face a tough task in the Auburn defense, which allows just over 155 yards passing per game.
Evan Stewart (WR)
Stewart is considered to be one of the best talents in the country as he has the ability to catch anything thrown his way. He has 257 yards receiving, with two touchdowns. Stewart is only a sophomore, but he is statistically one of the Aggies' best receivers in a talented wide receiver room. In the loss to Miami, he had 11 catches for 142 yards. Look for Texas A&M to get the ball in his hands.
Shemar Turner (DL)
Leading the way on defense, Turner has three sacks this season and has been a force as the strength of the Aggie defense is the defensive line. Turner has been the most productive defensive lineman, leading the team in sacks. Turner will look to cause havoc for the Auburn offensive line.
Keys to Victory
The Tigers main focus should be to throw the ball like Miami did. The Hurricanes gave their quarterback plenty of time to throw, and he lit up the Aggie secondary. Auburn should look to give Thorne time and let him throw to his receivers and attack the secondary that allows 200 passing yards per game.
On defense, look for Auburn to force turnovers and play good pass coverage. The Aggie offense has a heavy passing focus. Look for Auburn to play the pass and set up Texas A&M to run the ball, which it has struggled at times this year to do.
We saw in the Miami game that Weigman can turn the ball over. This could be the best defense he has faced so far this season, so Auburn will look to rattle the Texas A&M offense.
Look for Texas A&M to get their pass game going early and letting Weigman heat up. Auburn has struggled at times on offense, while Texas A&M has proved to be solid on offense.
The Aggie defense may look to force Thorne into obvious passing downs. Texas A&M could look to get its defensive line involved and force Auburn into long down and distance situations. The Aggies also could look to contain Thorne, so he does not scramble for big plays like he did versus Samford.
Look for Weigman and Stewart to get things rolling early and try to test the Auburn secondary as this will be the best passing attack Auburn has faced so far in the young season.
Auburn will play at Texas A&M at 11 a.m. CST on Saturday, Sept. 23 at Kyle Field. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN.
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TP is a senior from Montgomery, Alabama, majoring in journalism. He started with The Plainsman in fall 2022.