Saturday marks the first of four straight home games for Johnny Manziel and the No. 7 Texas A&M Aggies before a crucial road jaunt that could decide the SEC title game.
Texas A&M host the No. 24 Auburn Tigers at Kyle Field, hoping to keep pace with perfect Alabama and Missouri in the conference standings. In the last two weeks of the season the Aggies will head to Death Valley for a date with LSU, and end the year against the Tigers.
Last week, Manziel rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns, while the Aggies survived a late scare from Ole Miss in a 41-38 victory. The quarterback also threw for 346 yards and a pick, failing to pass for a touchdown for the first time this season.
Despite the statistical drop off, Manziel is still the secon-best rated passer in the SEC at 179.5 and tied for third with 14 touchdowns.
Auburn entered the Top 25 for the first time this year after a 62-3 annihilation of Western Carolina, breaking the school record with 712 offensive yards with 511 coming on the ground. Junior rushers Cameron Artis-Payne and Tre Mason combined for 233 yards and three touchdowns off 13 carries, while back-up quarterback Jeremy Johnson notched 201 passing yards and four touchdowns.
Johnson was filling in for injured Nick Marshall, who will return as the starter on Saturday after suffering a minor knee injury.
"Him taking this week off to heal up, we really needed him to heal," Mason said to AL.com. "He's a great athlete. He's somebody we need going into this game to make his plays."
Before the injury Marshall was completing 59.2 percent of his passes for 902 yards and four touchdowns, and two more on the ground.
Marshall can ease back into the pocket against an Aggies defense letting up the second most points and the worst number of yards in the SEC.
The running back matchups could decide this pivotal game. Manziel is joined by running back Ben Malena’s 364 rushing yards and eight touchdowns, while Mason and Artis-Payne face an A&M rush defense allowing 201.2 yards per game.
Point Spread: Texas A&M favored by 14 points.
Over-Under: 73.5 points
Kickoff Time: 3:30 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: CBS Sports Online
TV Channel: CBS
Prediction: Texas A&M 40, Auburn 35