The Auburn Tigers will be heading to Starkville, Mississippi this Saturday to close out the regular season when they face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. This is a makeup date between the two that was originally scheduled for November 14th. The game was moved due to Covid-19 issues within the Mississippi State program, but Auburn would also have the same problems that week as well. Auburn sits at 5-4 on the season and is looking to get the bad taste of the previous two weeks out of their mouths. The Tigers need a win to salvage what has been a very disappointing season. At 2-6, it has been a disappointing season for Mississippi State as well. The Bulldogs opened the season with an upset victory over LSU, but it has been a struggle since that win. The game will kick-off at 6:30 P.M. Central and televised by the SEC Network. Here is out Auburn vs Mississippi State preview:
Auburn vs Mississippi State Preview
Unrest in Auburn?
It has not been a good two weeks or season for Auburn. Especially for head coach Gus Malzahn. A big portion of the Auburn fanbase has made their displeasure known, and that they would like to see a change made. Will that happen? One would think it highly unlikely with the hefty buyout, but the pressure is on Malzahn regardless. This will be the seventh consecutive year that Auburn will have at least four losses. Auburn fans expect more than that. The program has been average under Malzahn with a few highlights since he took over the program in 2013. If they drop to 5-5, and the displeasure will only get louder.
Auburn Offense vs Mississippi State Defense
After eight games the Bulldogs are seventh in the SEC in yards allowed per game at 389.8. The unit is led by senior linebacker Erroll Thompson. Thompson leads the team with 74 tackles and has had five games this season with ten or more. The defense has collected 19 sacks on the season and protecting Bo Nix has been an issue for Auburn at times this season with him being sacked 20 times.
It is a recurring theme, but the version of Nix Auburn gets will be key to the game. Nix is 4-6 as a starter on the road and has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns with a ratio of 10 to 12. Against Texas A&M, Nix was 15 of 23 for 144 yards but was most effective running with two touchdowns on the day. Balance and consistency will be needed from this offense to secure a victory. Tank Bigsby did show more of his usual burst against the Aggies, and if he is back to being close to normal that will be a huge boost. The Auburn offense just has not been the same since he sustained the lower-body injury against the Volunteers three weeks ago.
Auburn Defense vs Mississippi State Offense
It is no secret what the Bulldogs want to do on offense. They want to throw it and then throw it some more. The Mike Leach offense has averaged almost 55 pass attempts per game this season, and just 16 rush attempts. That could work in Auburn’s favor on Saturday. First Auburn has been horrible against the run the last three weeks. Tennessee, Alabama, and Texas A&M gained an average of 226 yards. Last week against the Aggies, the defense gave up a total of 313 yards. The middle of the Auburn defense has been a weakness all year, and especially after losing star linebacker K.J. Britt early in the season. The fact that the Bulldogs do not run the ball is a huge plus for the Tigers.
The Auburn pass defense is currently ranked fourth in the SEC with allowing 239.7 yards per game. The secondary is led by cornerback Roger McCreary who has caught the attention of NFL Draft scouts. McCreary has two interceptions on the season, and the team has just seven. The Bulldogs quarterbacks have thrown for a total of 14, and with the high volume of passes, Auburn will look to add to their total. When it comes to the Bulldogs quarterbacks, freshman Will Rogers has played well in recent games despite some losing efforts. In the last three against Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Ole Miss (1-2 in those games), Rogers has completed 76% of his passes with five touchdowns and zero interceptions. Also, in those games, he has averaged 334 yards per game. Getting pressure on Rogers will be a key factor for Auburn and doing so could cause him to give the Tigers some opportunities for interceptions.
Auburn vs Mississippi State PredictionS
On offense, Auburn will just need to make sure they do not make any mistakes and give the Bulldogs some short field positions. Keeping some pressure off Bo Nix in the way of the run game will open things up for the offense, and perhaps using Nix in the run game as well. Defensively, the way the Bulldogs like to operate should play into Auburn’s strengths and they should be able to contain the Mississippi State offense. Auburn wins 34-20.