Why Texas A&M is a must-win game for Gus Malzahn
After they seemed to turn things around following a 14-6 Week 2 loss at Clemson, the Auburn Tigers hit a major roadblock against the LSU Tigers Oct. 14 in Baton Rouge.
Auburn led 20-0 then collapsed in a 27-23 loss, which caused the hot seat rumors to intensify for coach Gus Malzahn.
Coming off a bye week, the Tigers now face a tough test as they head to College Station this Saturday to take on the Texas A&M Aggies.
With tough home games against Georgia and Alabama (the top two teams in the AP Poll) still remaining, Saturday afternoon’s game at Kyle Field is a must-win for Malzahn if he wants to return as Auburn’s coach in 2018.
Here are three reasons why the importance of Saturday’s Week 10 matchup just increased drastically:
Mississippi State just won at Kyle Field
If the Aggies had entered this weekend’s game with just one home loss, by eight points to an undefeated and No. 1-ranked Alabama squad, Auburn would have a bit of leeway.
However, on Saturday night, Mississippi State went into College Station and exposed the Aggies as a mediocre team, running for 228 yards and passing for 141 more in a convincing 35-14 road win.
No, those weren’t video-game numbers by the Bulldogs, but they showed what good teams should be able to do against coach Kevin Sumlin’s squad, even at Kyle Field.
If the Tigers follow up the Bulldogs’ big win by laying an egg against the Aggies on Saturday afternoon, it won’t bode well for Malzahn’s future in Auburn.
Auburn will likely lose to either Alabama or Georgia
Let’s face facts here. Even if Auburn pulls off a big home win over either Georgia or Alabama, it will be insanely tough for the Tigers to win both games.
Considering Alabama has won seven of the past nine Iron Bowls (including three in a row), that game will be a tough one for the Tigers to win.
However, the Tigers haven’t fared very well against Georgia, either, and own a three-game losing streak in The Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry, too. In fact, Auburn has lost nine of its past 11 against the Bulldogs.
Altogether, if the Tigers lose to Texas A&M on Saturday afternoon, there’s a good chance they could end the year 7-5. At Auburn, 7-5 gets coaches fired.
The Aggies haven’t won a division home game since 2015
Sumlin is also back on the hot seat this year, especially after the loss to Mississippi State. A large part of that is because, as of Monday, it has been 758 days since the Aggies last beat an SEC West team at home:
It has been 7⃣5⃣6⃣ days since Texas A&M defeated an SEC West opponent at Kyle Field. #GigEm
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) October 29, 2017
That’s exactly the kind of streak Malzahn can’t afford to let the Aggies snap against his team as he doesn’t need any additional records broken against Auburn.
LSU’s 20-point comeback was the biggest since at least 1949 in Death Valley, and that collapse is the reason Malzahn is back on the hot seat.
Should his team let the Aggies pick up their first home win against a division rival since Oct. 3, 2015, it’ll likely spell the end of Malzahn’s tenure at Auburn.
Coaching is a brutal business, and it’s unlikely both Sumlin and Malzahn will survive to coach at their current schools in 2018, so Saturday afternoon’s game will be an important one for both embattled coaches.