College Football Picks: Auburn vs. Texas A&M

Willie Bee

Wednesday, October 16, 2013 1:47 PM UTC

Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 1:47 PM UTC

Here is the betting odds and free pick for a sure-fire SEC smashmouthed showdown between the Texas aTm Aggies and the Auburn Tigers.

Johnny Football just doesn't cut it for me any longer for an apt nickname. But the best I can do for a replacement is Johnny 'How Does That Cocky Little Bastard Not Get Killed And Continue To Put Points On the Scoreboard' Manzeil, which doesn't exactly roll off the tongue like Johnny Football. 

The defending Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M University pulled one out of his bag of tricks last Saturday in Oxford against Ole Miss, averting what I picked as an outright Rebels upset. The Aggies proved me wrong in the end with the triumph, but never covered the closing 7 point spread that started a point-&-a-half lower. Manziel and the Ags are even bigger favorites at home Saturday against the vastly improved Auburn Tigers, the NCAA odds opening at 13 and dropping a half-point since at many outlets, and the rest of this preview will be an attempt to talk myself off taking the underdog once again.

A weak attempt, possibly, but an attempt nonetheless.

Comparisons From Last Year's Debacle Out The Window

The debacle at Jordan-Hare last October has to be forgotten by players, fans and college football handicappers alike. Not much has changed on the Aggie offensive side since then, but this is a much weaker defensive unit than a year ago. A lot has changed for Auburn on both sides of the ball, especially on the offense where Gus Malzahn will match wits with A&M's Kevin Sumlin.

You have to go back to the 1986 Cotton Bowl to find the previous meeting, an A&M upset during the Bo Jackson years on the Plains. And the only other get-together was also in Dallas in 1911, the Aggies posting a 16-zip shutout. So throw out all of the previous history between these two teams.

Conflicting Totals: Favor Home Team Trends?

One shop started the total at 64, but the recognized opener on SBR's live college football odds is 72.5, and that figure has dropped to 72 as of Wednesday morning.

One of the first things we see when handicapping the total is contrast in recent trends for both schools. UNDER bettors have cashed four times in Auburn's six games this season, one of the two OVERS coming last week when Western Carolina proved to be a complete sieve on defense, especially on the ground where the Tigers rolled up more than 500 yards rushing.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, has been a money machine for college football bettors riding the OVER, five paydays in six games so far. Four of the last five at Kyle Field have also jumped the scoreboard hurdle, the lone UNDER in that span in the 42-13 victory vs. SMU four weeks ago.

My first reaction is to expect a shootout this Saturday, Manzeil and the Aggies doing their thing on offense while the Texas A&M defense assists the Tigers in running up yardage and putting up their own points. But that seems too easy.

Injuries, Mother Nature & Final Thoughts

Nick Marshall is listed as probable after suffering a knee injury in the win over Ole Miss a couple of weeks back. The junior quarterback sat out last week, and true freshman Jeremy Johnson filled in nicely in the romp past the Catamounts. This will eventually be Johnson's team to run, but there's no argument that the Tigers are a better team right now with Marshall under center.

It has been a wet week in most parts of Texas, and a 30% chance of rain is in the Saturday forecast. Look for an afternoon high in the low-70s, and a 10-12 mph NNE wind that could help give kicks towards the south end zone a little extra push.

This was the only college football free pick assignment given me this week, so let's make it a good one. Auburn isn't going to run for 500 yards against Texas A&M's defense, as weak as it is, but I do expect Aggie defenders to spend too much time on the field which should allow the Tigers to stay within the spread. The OVER also looks good, but for now I'm sticking with Auburn plus the points.

My pick: Auburn +13 at Bet365

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Record: season 16-5 (+10.5); last week 4-0

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