In case your appetite for college football is not satisfied by a Kentucky home game against our aeronautically inclined rival (12:00 PM on EPSN) followed by Johnny Manziel and the Aggies hosting perennial powerhouse Alabama (3:30 pm CBS) then look no further. Here are 3 Reasons why you should care about the Auburn vs. Mississippi State game.
Here’s what to watch for Saturday night:
1. Conference Implications
Of course, every team has the incentive to win. Just ask Herm Edwards, he knows. But for Auburn and Mississippi winning this game goes beyond 3-0 or 2-1 record, respectively. For Auburn, Gus Malzahn is looking to start his head coaching gig with a 1-0 conference record and prove that the Tigers are a competent force in the SEC. Plus, Auburn is the current owner of a brand new 10-game conference losing streak, which is something Malzahn is probably looking to end. Looking ahead with bowl hopes in mind, Auburn faces LSU, Texas A&M, Georgia, and Alabama. If they are unable to pull out a win against a team like Miss St., then things will be looking bleak for the Tigers. Similarly, the Bulldogs, who were absolutely dismal in a 21-3 routing by Oklahoma State, face the same uphill battle. Having lost 6 of their last 8 games, MSU needs this win. Badly. With South Carolina and the entire SEC west (‘Bama et al.), who knows when or even how they may keep up in the most competitive football conference.
2. Mississippi State Quarterbacks
Veteran Quarterback Tyler Russell* was sidelined for week 2 due to a head injury, putting Dak Prescott under center for the bulldogs. Russell is the veteran leader and superior passer (both key aspects listed under the “Quarterback” job description) but the offense (and Russell) seemed to struggle in week one against Oklahoma State. While there may not be a starting job looming for Prescott, expect things to change if Tyler Russell does not pull it together against the Tigers. Decide for yourself if and when Dak Prescott makes a brief appearance during the game.
3. Spectacle of the Running Tiger
Auburn has an incredible run game. They have three running backs (Grant, Mason, Artis-Page) who, get a load of this, average 298 yards per-game with each back tallying over 150 yards in just two games. Not surprisingly, Auburn has elected to run the ball 71% of the time. However, it remains to be seen whether these numbers are a product of an effective backfield or if Washington State and Arkansas State could simply not keep up. My guess is that it is a healthy mixture of both, but we will see tomorrow against MSU’s traditionally physical defense.
Fact of the day: Charles Barkley went to Auburn.
*NOTE: Russell threw for 222 yards and three touchdowns in last year’s 28-10 win over Auburn.