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Thursday January 20th, 2022 3:34AM

No. 12 Auburn playing to stay in SEC West race at No. 13 A&M

By The Associated Press
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Things to watch in Week 10 in the Southeastern Conference:

GAME OF THE WEEK

Auburn at Texas A&M

No. 12 Auburn (6-2, 3-1 SEC) visits No. 13 Texas A&M (6-2, 3-2) in the SEC's only Top-25 matchup, with the Tigers hoping to stay tied with just one loss in the chase for the league's Western Division. Auburn and rival third-ranked Alabama are the only one-loss teams left in one of the toughest divisions in college football. If they stay that way, get ready for a winner-take-all Iron Bowl in three weeks. First, though, come the Aggies, who beat the Crimson Tide at home, rallying with the final 10 points for a 41-38 victory that knocked Alabama from No. 1. Texas A&M would love to send Auburn home with a loss, too. Aggies quarterback Zach Calzada has grown into the starting role since that Alabama victory, defeating Missouri and South Carolina the past two games by a combined score of 79-28. Auburn is led by the dynamic Bo Nix, who is also coming into his own at quarterback under first-year coach Bryan Harsin. Nix threw for 262 yards and a touchdown in Auburn's 31-20 win over No. 15 Mississippi last week.

BEST MATCHUP

The defense for No. 18 Kentucky has been adept at stopping the run all season long, allowing just 115 yards a game. That's 23rd in the Football Bowl Subdivision and fourth in the SEC. The Wildcats will get a stern test this week against Tennessee, which has the fourth-best rushing attack in the SEC at 226 yards a game. Vols tailback Tiyon Evans is fifth in the league with 516 yards. His per-carry average of 6.45 per rush is third best among the SEC's top 10 runners. Kentucky defensive lineman Joshua Pascal has 10.5 tackles for loss, while linebacker Deandre Square has 8.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage this season.

LONG SHOT

LSU will need most of its lineup from its national champions two years ago if it hopes to have a shot against third-ranked Alabama. The Tigers won in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, two years ago 46-41 on the way to winning the SEC and national title. Besides seeing most of that group play Sundays in the NFL, LSU has let go of Ed Orgeron, effective at the end of this season. The Tigers come in having lost three of four — all to ranked opponents — while Alabama has rebounded from its loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 9 with blowouts of Mississippi State and Tennessee.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Kentucky is 130-0 all time when scoring at least 42 points in a game. ... Alabama has had 85 non-offensive touchdowns since Nick Saban took over as coach in 2007. The Crimson Tide have five such scores through seven games this year. ... Tennessee leads the nation with 2.89 plays per minute and is fifth in the country at 1.48 points per minute. ... Florida's NCAA record of 418 straight games with points continued with Emory Jones' 2-yard TD run with less than three minutes left in Georgia's 34-7 victory last week. ... Mississippi State has held its past two opponents to fewer than 50 plays, only the third time that's happened in the SEC. LSU did it in 2011 and Kentucky in 2019. ... Georgia is one of just two FBS teams to beat five teams with a winning record.

IMPACT PLAYER

Missouri RB Tyler Badie is leading the SEC with 989 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He's poised to become the fourth Tiger in the past five seasons to gain 1,000 yards on the ground. He's averaging 123 yards a game. If that's extended out the rest of the season, Badie could finish with the most rushing yards for Missouri since Brad Smith gained 1,406.

___

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