Auburn and Texas A&M are both on a bit of a hot streak as of late.
Auburn is coming off back-to-back wins, scoring more than 30 points against Arkansas and Ole Miss. For Texas A&M, the headline victory came a few weeks back, topping Alabama, followed by dominating wins over Missouri and South Carolina.
However, since the Alabama win, Aggies quarterback Zach Calzada has come back down to earth, throwing for less than 200 yards against Missouri and South Carolina with an interception in both contests.
Tigers quarterback Bo Nix hasn’t turned into the star we were waiting for, but he has completed at least 71 percent of his passes with over 275 yards in each of his last two games.
While the quarterbacks are fine, Auburn and Texas A&M’s offenses are centered around the running game. The question is, will either quarterback or their running attacks be enough to overcome two defenses both ranked in the top-25 according to Pro Football Focus?
Let’s parse this out.
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Auburn vs. Texas A&M Prediction
Favored at home, there are not many metrics available that point to an Aggies victory. According to PFF, the Tigers are a higher-ranked overall offense and defense in terms of grades. Both teams are 6-2. The Aggies have allowed fewer points this season than Auburn, but they’ve also scored more than 40 fewer points.
In terms of top-end talent, the Aggies arguably win in that department with running backs Devon Achane, Isaiah Spiller, Antonio Johnson, and perennial top NFL draft choice DeMarvin Leal.
That said, Calzada is definitely more prone than Nix to turn the ball over with seven total interceptions and six turnover-worthy plays when under pressure.
In all honesty, this is a tough game to call, but playing at home in a hostile road environment could be just enough to propel the Aggies to a tight home win with the help of the overall dynamic running game.
Betting Pick: Texas A&M 30, Auburn 27
Auburn vs. Texas A&M Best Bets
Best Bet: Auburn Tigers +4.5 (-110) at Caesars
In a lot of football games, you can get an idea of who should win by looking at matchups. This game is a bit of an exception. On paper, both teams perform very similarly in most categories, but Auburn does rank higher in terms of overall offense and defense.
With that, I can understand the Aggies being three-point home favorites—this is a typical line in a game like this—but the extra point and a half make it hard to not take the Tigers.
According to PFF, 61 percent of the cash and 49 percent of the tickets are on the Tigers here.
While Nix hasn’t ever been the player we hoped he’d be, he has played in many big games and should be able to compose himself well enough to not throw the game away, manage the offense and make the necessary throws when needed.
The Aggies should pull this one out at home, but narrowly. Take the Tigers with the points.
Best Bet: Auburn Tigers Moneyline (+170) at Caesars
We’ve been discussing the Aggies winning this game all article long, but the Tigers do have a real shot to win here. As 4.5-point road dogs, they have a moneyline at +170. This could grow as the week goes on. However, if the cash on the spread is any indication, the public could also start throwing some cash at the moneyline to help hinder the value a little bit.
At Caesars, the Aggies are -200. These aren’t terrible odds, but in a game that could very well finish too tight, it’s never a bad idea to lay some cash on the underdog, especially with these kinds of odds.
If the Tigers can create consistent pressure in the game and set it up for Nix to execute throws when needed, but let running back Tank Bigsby gouge the Aggies, there’s a shot the No. 12 Tigers could top the No. 13 Aggies.
Best Bet: Over 50 (-110) at Caesars
Even though both teams don’t have the most stellar quarterbacks in the country, have good defensive units and offenses mostly led by a rushing attack, this game could finish well above this 50 total. It’s certainly possible that both teams are able to score with ease, setting up their respective offenses with the rushing attack and making splash plays on play-action. Both offensive lines aren’t exactly elite either, so we could see some turnovers in positive field position for the opposing team.
Both teams are coming into this game red hot. Even against each other’s tougher defensive units, their offenses should continue to put up points, as they both attempt to climb the AP Top-25 into the top 10.
While a scenario of the rushing attacks making the clock run out does exist as a possibility, I’ll take my chances with the Over here.
All statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).