The SEC West looks like a three-team race through the first four weeks of the season.
No. 8 Auburn (4-0 overall, 1-0 SEC) had no problem with No. 17 Texas A&M with a 28-20 win in College Station. The Tigers were up 14-3 at halftime and the Aggies had a great chance to close the gap to a possession at the start of the third quarter.
But that didn’t happen. Isaiah Spiller fumbled after a 13-yard run and gave the Tigers the ball just eight seconds into the half. Fewer than three minutes later, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix found wide receiver Seth Williams for a nine-yard touchdown.
A&M finally got its first touchdown of the day not long after the fourth quarter began. But Auburn dropped the hammer again with a 12-play drive that took over six minutes and ended when JaTarvious Whitlow ran into the end zone from eight yards out to make the lead 28-10.
The Aggies then scored 10 late points but Auburn recovered an onside kick with just over two minutes to go and killed the clock thanks to a well-designed third-down run for Nix.
A&M’s really bad day
It felt like nothing went right for the Aggies. The rushing attack badly missed Jashaun Corbin, who suffered a season-ending hamstring injury against Clemson in Week 2. The Aggies averaged under three yards a carry on 21 carries and when you take away a 22-yard run on a third and 30 situation the average is much, much worse.
QB Kellen Mond was pressured all day by Auburn’s defensive front as the Tigers realized that A&M’s rushing attack was extremely feeble. Mond was forced to throw 49 passes. He completed 31 of them for 335 yards.
Kicker Seth Small missed two field goals as well and both came in the first half as A&M was trying to counter Auburn touchdowns with field goals.
Saturday was the fourth-straight time the Tigers had won in College Station and drops the Aggies to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the SEC.
How far can Auburn go?
The freshman QB Nix was once again serviceable and didn’t make any major mistakes. Nix finished the game 12-of-20 passing for 100 yards and a score while backup QB Joey Gatewood also saw playing time and threw Auburn’s second TD of the day.
“We just came out in the second half and we found some plays that work and we ran them,” Nix said of Auburn’s 14 second-half points.
If you’re handicapping the SEC West it’s hard to put Auburn at anything other than No. 3 behind Alabama and LSU because Nix hasn’t showed the dynamism that Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow have so far in 2019. That’s understandable. Nix has played just four college football games in his career.
But that said, the gap between Auburn and the top two teams in the West sure seems smaller than we thought it would be at the beginning of the year. The Auburn defense has given up a combined 41 points to both Oregon and A&M. A defense like that gives an offense a lot of cushion. With a home game upcoming against Mississippi State, Auburn sure looks like it’ll head to No. 9 Florida on Oct. 5 at 5-0. If the Tigers win there, then watch out.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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