The SEC Network will broadcast the second contest of the 2011 Mississippi State football season around noon on September 10th. The opponent will be none other than the defending BCS champs, the Auburn Tigers.
The Bulldogs will have to travel to Jordan-Hare Stadium this year, but don't let that scare you too much. Even Sylvester Croom managed to pull off a win there in 2007.
In all seriousness, this is what many consider to be a rebuilding year for the defending champs and I think it's safe to say that 2011 will not be nearly as memorable as 2010 was for the Tigers. However, if you're still concerned about how your beloved Bulldogs will fair against Chizik's kitten squad this year, I politely urge you to keep reading...
First off, let's deal with the obvious. What was arguably last season's best college football player on the offensive side of the ball is long gone. I can't think of any other individual player in all of college football that made the type of impact on his team that Cameron Newton made for Auburn. Like him or hate him, the man was a true athlete and deserved the Heisman Trophy based on his sheer football talent. I'm pretty certain the Bulldog's (and the rest of the SEC) are glad he's gone.
Barrett Trotter and Clint Moseley are apparently the two guys that will battle for the Auburn quarterback position in 2011. Unfortunately for Trotter and Moseley, the Tigers have lost most of their offensive line from a season ago. There are no superstars like Lee Ziemba or Ryan Pugh to rely on for protection. Having said that, it's important to note that Mississippi State lost three superstar linebackers in Pernell McPhee, K.J. Wright, and Chris White. Fortunately, MSU has always had good depth on the defensive side of the ball and senior linebacker Brandon Wilson is a good example of that. I'm not sure if he'll find a way to get to the quarterback as often as Chris White did, but he will be a huge weapon when it comes to stopping the run. Stopping the run against Auburn,specifically Michael Dyer, would be huge because the experienced Bulldog secondary should be able to defend the pass against the inexperienced Tiger quarterback. I have my doubts about whether or not the 2011 MSU defense will be as good as last years, but I do feel pretty confident that our guys will be good enough to handle the young talent on Auburn's 2011 offense.
Speaking of offense, Mississippi State is bringing back almost all of their heavy hitters and I really think that will be the difference in this game. Almost everyone on the Bulldog offense has big game experience. Yes, I know Derek Sherrod is gone, but so is Nick Fairley! One could argue that Nick Fairley was pretty much the Cam Newton of the Auburn defense. There are just too many weapons at Chris Relf's disposal this year and Auburn has simply lost too many of their super star players.
I've said before that I don't like doing predictions, but I'll go out on a limb and make one now. Although I don't think it'll be anything fancy, Chris Relf and the Bulldog offense will put enough points on the board to score the win.