No. 14 Auburn keeps SEC West hopes alive with win at Texas A&M

Auburn’s path to the SEC title is pretty clear. It’s also pretty tough.

Thanks to a 42-27 win over Texas A&M on Saturday, Auburn is now 5-1 in the conference (7-2 overall) and can win the SEC West with two-straight conference wins and the SEC overall with three-straight conference wins.

Here comes the tough part. The No. 14 Tigers play No. 1 Georgia next week. And in three weeks, Auburn hosts No. 2 Alabama. Wins in both of those put the Tigers in the SEC Championship … likely against Georgia again.

Brutal.

Saturday was not brutal for Auburn. Quarterback Jarrett Stidham was 20-27 for 268 yards and three touchdowns and the Tigers rushed 52 times for 228 yards and two touchdowns on a reeling Texas A&M defense.

Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham (8) passes down field against Texas A&M during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017, in College Station, Texas. (AP Photo/Sam Craft)

A&M, 5-4, switched quarterbacks in the first half, though it didn’t help much. Opening day starter Nick Starkel took over for Kellen Mond — his first serious action since an ankle injury vs. UCLA in Week 1.

Starkel finished 11-22 for 184 yards and two scores. Very passable. If only he could have played defense or punted the ball. One of Auburn’s touchdowns came via a blocked punt and another was set up on a short field after a Texas A&M punt ricocheted off a blocker.

The loss continues a horrid streak for Texas A&M — a streak that’s a main reason why Aggie coach Kevin Sumlin’s job could be in jeopardy. A&M hasn’t beaten a fellow SEC West team at Kyle Field since Oct. 3, 2015.

A&M fans feel the school should be better than that, especially after the success the school had immediately after entering the SEC. And maybe they’re right. But if the school was to fire Sumlin at the end of the season, who, exactly, is it going to hire?

Florida is looking for a coach. Tennessee probably will be as well. Maybe even Arkansas. That’s three potential SEC teams also looking for coaches if A&M decides to embark on a coaching search and who knows how many other Power Five programs could be looking for a change. It’s a seller’s market. And seller’s markets can easily lead to buyer’s remorse.