Two schools with a shared legacy as college football dark horses meet this weekend. Texas A&M were named national champions three times but the last was in 1939. Auburn has been honoured five times but it’s complicated.
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The Aggies’ most recent claims to success are more dubious. Johnny Manziel’s freshman Heisman that turns out to be his career peak in the US although he’s coming on strong in the CFL with Montreal. The school’s successful courtship of former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher wasn’t exactly Ohio State landing Urban Meyer, although it may turn out to be more ethical in the long run. I said maybe.
Auburn only lays claim to two of its five proffered championships but has strong arguments it should have won in two other seasons. Miami leapfrogged them in 1983 after squeaking past Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. The War Eagles went undefeated in 1993 but were on probation. There was also the 2014 National Championship game at the Rose Bowl in which Auburn were nipped by Florida State 34-31 SU. The coaches in that game will be facing off again at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Can Gus Malzahn claim a small measure of revenge by knocking off Fisher’s No.25 A&M?It won’t be easy even with the home advantage. The LINE moved in the Aggies’ favour early in the week. The Tigers were giving six points. Then it dipped to four. A&M won at Jordan-Hare in 2016 although Auburn returned the favour in College Station last year. In fact, the visiting team has won the past five meetings STRAIGHT UP. The winner is 3-2 AGAINST THE SPREAD in that stretch with the three wins coming in the most recent games.
Both teams are 5-3 SU. The Aggies lost to Mississippi State last week. Auburn were idle but ended a two-game slide the previous Saturday against Ole Miss. Both teams are 5-3. The shifting line could be explained by Gus Malzahn’s announcement that leading rusher Jartavious ‘Boobee’ Whitlow and starting right tackle Jack Driscoll are day-to-day. Jimbo Fisher’s biggest concern is reserve wide receiver Jhamon Ausbon’s foot surgery, which rules out his 15 catches and 221 yards until the bowl season.
The TOTAL  is conflicted by recent trends. Texas A&M is 4-0 with the UNDER in their last four games, all SEC clashes. On the other hand, Auburn exploits bye weeks very well. They’ve gone OVER three times and pushed once in their last four opportunities.
Overall, the road team is 6-0 ATS in the last half-dozen encounters, with the underdog 3-0-1 ATS. A good deal depends on whether Boobee Whitlow is fit for the game and if not, whether Kam Martin and Shaun shivers can step up in his absence. Even so, the Aggies are coming off a loss and Auburn is rested, challenging the trend of road team’s winning streak in this matchup. With doubt on both sides rather than confidence, I feel safest risking my money on the UNDER in this one.
Martin Palazzotto is a freelance writer and author of strange bOUnce, a collection of sport fiction.