Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 10/18/13
The Tigers are experiencing a resounding resurgence in their program, thanks in part to the work of first-year head coach Gus Malzahn, who was offensive coordinator at Auburn from 2009-11.He left to take the head coaching job at Arkansas State, leading the Red Wolves to a 9-3 season. So when Gene Chizik was let go after last season, Auburn administrators had an idea of who they wanted to get the program back to prominence two years after they won the BCS National Championship game over Oregon.After six games, Auburn is 5-1, with the lone loss coming against LSU--at Baton Rouge. Last year at this juncture, AU was 1-5. Talk about a dramatic turnaround.After a resounding 62-3 win over Western Carolina, Auburn returns to Southeastern Conference fare, and the assisgnment is a tough one: going to Texas A&M and facing Johnny Manziel, a player Malzahn describes as the "best that ever played" college football. Malzahn coached Cam Newton at Auburn during his Heisman Trophy winning season in 2010--the season the Tigers won the national title.Last season at Jordan-Hare Stadium, the Aggies--in their first year as a member of the SEC--gave the Tigers an old-fashioned behind-the shed tail-whipping, courtesy of Manziel and crew by the score of 63-21.While it's unlikely the score will be the same this time around, here are three things to look at when the Tigers face the Aggies at Kyle Field.1. On the Road For Just The Second Time: All of Auburn's wins have come at home, and Texas A&M has just come from a road gig--albeit a successful one--as they came from behind against Ole Miss with a 41-38 victory. Saturday's game--which will be the featured CBS SEC Game of the Week--will be "Maroon Out" for the Aggies and their faithful. Auburn will don their white traveling uniforms for the first time this season--LSU wore its traditional white jersies at Tiger Stadium. Auburn hung in with their Tiger brethren at Baton Rouge, but they were playing in the rain.2. How The Auburn Defense Can Work Against Johnny Manziel: The last time Auburn went on the road, they faced an improving Zach Mettenberger, and a talented group of running backs and receivers. The Tigers' defense has made some improvements under first year defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. Through six games, Auburn's defense has held the opposition to 13 percent when it comes to converting on third down opportunities in the fourth quarter (3-of-23). The only way Manziel could be stopped realistically is if he has bad Tex-Mex food served during the pregame meal, and Montezuma's Revenge kicks in big time. Defensive Dee Ford is fourth in the SEC in sacks per game. The Tigers defense in the second half has only given up five touchdowns and four field goals, and 13 fourth quarter points. To say that the Auburn defense is going to have to bring an A-plus-plus game to College Station is like saying Miley Cyrus is controversial--a massive understatement.3. The Best Defense Sometimes Can Be A Good Offense: When you think of Auburn, you think of outstanding running backs. They have had them, from Joe Cribbs, William Andrews, Bo Jackson, Ronnie Brown and "Cadillac" Williams. Through six games, Auburn is leading the SEC in rushing with 287 yards a game, using several backs to help the running game go. The best way to keep Manziel off the field is for Auburn to have a very, very good day running the football. A&M's defense has been suspect against the run, including last week at Oxford against the Rebels on a few occasions. If the Tigers running game clicks--with the return of Nick Marshall as the Tigers' starting quarterback, who can do damage with his legs and arm--the Tigers may have what it takes to come away with a "W."
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