Auburn football (No. 17, 6-3, 3-2 SEC) will look to get back on track this week with a home date with the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3 SEC). Kickoff is slated for 11 a.m. Saturday morning in Jordan-Hare Stadium. Auburn’s offense struggled mightily on the road last week against Texas A&M and has now gone six straight quarters without scoring a touchdown. Meanwhile, the defense has not allowed the opposing offense to score a touchdown in the last six quarters as well.
Mississippi State is coached by air raid architect Mike Leach. The Bulldogs are quarterbacked by Will Rogers II who ranks third nationally with 3307 yards while completing 75.2% of his throws. Rogers has completed at least 30 passes in nine straight games. While the Bulldogs light it up on offense through the air, the Bulldogs struggle mightily on the ground. The Bulldogs are dead last nationally with 56 rushing yards per game. Part of this number is attributable to offensive scheme, but the Bulldogs also rank 127th out of 130 teams in yards per carry at 2.6. Mississippi State has five different players with at least 37 catches – Makai Polk, Jo’Quavious Marks, Dillon Johnson, Jaden Walley, and Austin Williams.
Defensively, the Bulldogs rank 11th nationally allowing only 102.1 yards per game. Additionally, State has only allowed six rushing touchdowns all year. Emmanuel Forbes is the active career leader in interceptions in the SEC with eight. Redshirt junior linebacker Jett Johnson leads the team in tackles with 64. Linebacker Tyrus Wheat is one of five players with at least three sacks and leads the team in sacks with four.
While the Bulldogs are a respectable 5-4 in Leach’s second year at the helm and sit fifth in the SEC West, they have also been maddeningly inconsistent. While no one will hold a loss to No. 2 Alabama against the Bulldogs, two of their three SEC losses have come to the two teams below them in the SEC West standings – LSU and Arkansas. Mississippi State also has a non-conference loss to Memphis, a .500 team in the AAC. Conversely, the Bulldogs have toppled No. 11 Texas A&M on the road, No. 16 North Carolina State, and Kentucky, who was a top-15 team when the Bulldogs played them.
The question for State fans is which version of their team will show up on any given Saturday. Will it be the team who throttled two-loss North Carolina State or the team that lost to LSU and embattled coach Ed Orgeron? Auburn fans will also be interested in the answer to that question given the two teams battle on the gridiron this Saturday.