After an interesting week between Mississippi State University and Auburn University, the teams will face off in Davis Wade Stadium this Saturday.
Last weekend, Auburn had to battle against the explosive University of Arkansas Razorbacks’ offense, while talk about a new athletic director heading to the Plains swirled around the college football landscape. The Tigers kept it interesting before halftime but ended up falling to the Razorbacks 41-27.
Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford, a transfer from Oregon, posted a 72% completion rate with 285 passing yards against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Ashford is a mobile quarterback who has proven he can make plays with his arms and his feet. One of Ashford’s main targets includes running back Tank Bigsby, who is one of the most explosive running backs in the Southeastern Conference.
Bigsby's quickness and athletic ability have led to 2,520 career rushing yards — ranking him 11th all-time at Auburn. The speed and talent from Bigsby could give the Bulldogs’ defense trouble if they do not find a way to eliminate the rushing attack early.
Auburn also has playmakers on defense, like defensive end Derick Hall, who has 4.5 sacks on the season. Last week, Hall recorded six total tackles against the Razorbacks.
The Bulldogs are coming off a much needed bye week after a 30-6 loss against the University of Alabama. Quarterback Will Rogers recorded his 26th consecutive 200-yard passing game against Alabama during the loss in Tuscaloosa. The Bulldogs’ offense is also 22-for-24 in the red zone and will look to continue their success against an Auburn defense that have struggled at times over recent weeks.
In his weekly presser, MSU head coach Mike Leach discussed the Auburn Tigers and what the Bulldogs can do to walk out of Davis Wade Stadium with a win.
"I mean they are good, definitely good," Leach said. "Auburn is one of those teams that has players all over the country. All we can do is play together and play well."
The Bulldogs’ pass defense has shown signs of improvement this season, as they have not allowed more than 276 yards through the air in a game this season. The MSU secondary still has talented players, like Emmanuel Forbes, who continues to dominate on the gridiron. This season, Forbes has recorded 20 tackles, two pick-sixes and five interceptions.
Shortly after the announcement of former MSU athletic director John Cohen’s departure for Auburn, the Tigers fired head coach Bryan Harsin. Coach Leach said that even with the firing of coach Harsin, the preparation remains the same for the Bulldogs.
"I do not think it is going to change our preparation," Leach said. "We did a lot of work during the bye (week) and were able to get better. We had a really good practice Thursday, and I do not think it is going to change."
These two teams will step into Davis Wade Stadium this Saturday looking to get back in the win column. MSU could secure their 13th straight season of bowl eligibility with a win against Auburn.
All of the heightened drama will come to a head this Saturday when MSU faces Auburn in Starkville. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m., and the game will be streamed live on ESPN2.