Auburn vs Mississippi State Preview

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This Saturday the Auburn Tigers return home to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs and look to rebound from their 20-3 defeat to the Texas A&M Aggies. The Tigers did suffer their third loss of the season last week but still have plenty to play for. Auburn still has the potential of winning ten games and has an outside shot at playing in Atlanta for the SEC Championship against Georgia.

The game against the Bulldogs will be an 11 a.m. central time kick-off and will be televised by ESPN.

Auburn vs Mississippi State Preview

Offensive Bounce Back

That is a key for both teams, but for Auburn they will need to put the disappointing performance against the Aggies behind them and move forward. That is not always an easy task for college players, but head coach Bryan Harsin seems to have the personality to get this team in the right mindset. The mindset needed against the Bulldogs will be one of physicality.

Auburn needs to set the tone early in this one with their offensive line and running game led by Tank Bigsby. The offense only totaled 73 yards on the ground against a tough Texas A&M defense with 69 of that coming from Bigsby off 15 carries. That could be strength against strength in this game with Mississippi State ranking third in the SEC allowing 102.1 rushing yards per game. Auburn enters Saturday averaging 183.6 yards per game on the ground and ranks seventh in the SEC.

Another bounce-back on offense will be needed by Bo Nix. The quarterback for the Tigers had a rough day after a stretch of games where he had shown major improvement. Against the Aggies Nix went 20 for 41 passing and had two turnovers. One was a fumble with the Tigers up 9-3 that was recovered by Texas A&M and returned for a touchdown that basically sealed the game. Nix will need to return to the form he showed against LSU, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. He will also need to be mindful of Emmanuel Forbes. The corner is tied for third in the SEC with three interceptions.

Defending the Mike Leach offense

Mississippi State has improved tremendously in their second season under Mike Leach. In 2020, the Bulldogs ranked 12th in the SEC in total offense and averaged just 21.4 points per contest. This season, however, they are ranked 7th in total offense and are scoring 28 points per game. That is largely due to the improved play of quarterback Will Rogers. The second-year signal-caller leads the conference with 3,307 yards and a 75% completion percentage.

While the Mississippi State offense passes the ball much of the time, they can sneak up on opponents with an effective running game. In their upset win over Kentucky two weeks ago, they rushed for 94 yards and dominated in time of possession. Their two leading rushers Jo’Quavious Marks and Dillon Johnson have combined for 571 yards with seven touchdowns and almost four yards per carry.

The Auburn secondary will get plenty of work in this game with Rogers averaging almost 54 passing attempts per game. He has even gone over 60 attempts in two games early in the season. The leading receiver for the Bulldogs has been Makai Polk for 720 yards and six touchdowns. He currently sits at fourth in the conference in receiving yards. To neutralize Polk, Auburn should have Roger McCreary matched up with him. That could force the other receivers to step up.

Getting a solid pass rush with the likes of Colby Wooden, T.D. Moultry and Derrick Hall will also be pivotal. Not only get sacks but force Rogers into early throws to cause some potential turnovers. Rogers has eight interceptions on the season. The Tigers have only picked off the opposing team five times this season.

Auburn vs Mississippi State prediction

Auburn has a history of starting slow or not playing well on these early kick-offs. The Tigers may start off slow in this one. That will give Mississippi State a chance to gain an early lead. The Auburn offense should find its footing in the second quarter and the defense adjusts to the Bulldogs style of offense. The running game plus effective play from Nix should carry the Tigers to a close victory on the plains.