Auburn vs. Texas A&M: Top Offensive Playmakers Who Will Decide SEC Clash
Offensive fireworks should be the norm when Auburn takes on Texas A&M on Saturday, and there are a few exceptional playmakers not named Johnny Manziel you'll want to watch in this game.
Manziel is one of the nation's brightest stars, and his exceptional play this season has him vying for his second Heisman Trophy in as many years. But he's hardly the only noteworthy offensive playmaker ready to put on a show when these two SEC teams meet up on national television this weekend.
Both teams enter Week 8 having lost just one game. With so many good teams playing in the SEC and across the nation right now, another loss would prove catastrophic to their BCS title hopes.
This game will be exciting from start to finish, with these players leading the charge on offense.
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
If Auburn has any chance of knocking off Texas A&M at home, then Tre Mason must have a monster game on the ground for the Tigers.
He leads a potent rushing attack for Auburn that averages 4.2 yards per carry before contact, as noted by Mackenzie Kraemer of ESPN Stats & Info. For the season, Mason has rushed for 515 yards and seven touchdowns on 92 carries—averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
His average should go up significantly against Texas A&M, which has allowed 201.2 rushing yards per game this year.
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
When Johnny Manziel completes big plays in the passing game, more often than not it's Mike Evans making the reception on the other end.
For the season, Evans has caught 32 passes for 737 yards and five touchdowns—averaging 23 yards per reception, which is outstanding.
Auburn hasn't been great against the pass this season, ranking No. 88 in the nation and allowing 252.8 yards per game. This is even more alarming considering the teams the Tigers have faced this year—none of which come close to matching the firepower of Texas A&M.
Sammie Coates, WR, Auburn
Texas A&M's pass defense has been abominable this year, ranking No. 105 in the nation while allowing 273.2 yards per game. Even more alarming is the 17 total passing touchdowns this defense has allowed in six games.
Auburn runs the ball far more often than it throws, but when quarterback Nick Marshall has looked to make a big play through the air, he's found Sammie Coates to be a reliable threat.
Coates has caught just 13 passes this year for the Tigers, but he's made the most out of his chances, averaging 24.5 yards per reception—including a 68-yard touchdown grab.
Which team will win?
He's not a high-volume receiver, by any stretch. But when Auburn needs to make a big play downfield, Coates is the man Texas A&M must be doubly aware of.
Ben Malena, RB, Texas A&M
Manziel leads the Aggies in rushing, but when it's time to pound the rock between the tackles near the goal line, it's Malena who gets the call.
He's rushed for 364 yards and eight touchdowns already this year, averaging five yards per carry.
Teams get so busy trying to contain Manziel that Malena often sees huge running lanes open up in the middle of the field, and he is adept at finishing his runs with power.
Texas A&M is a pass-first team, but Auburn would be foolish to forget about Malena.
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