This game is really getting a lot of hype right now. It is the first major battle of the SEC season, and between two teams that are very familiar with each other and similar in style of play. Auburn has been picked by some to be a darkhorse contender for the SEC West this year, many claiming that the road to the SEC Championship goes through the Iron Bowl. Mississippi State is looking to make a statement that their offensive success against Memphis was not a fluke and they are ready to play.
Here are the keys to success for Mississippi State to walk away with a win tonight.
Auburn showed a weak, sloppy defensive effort against Arkansas State this past weekend. In fact, they have allowed 26 points or more in the last 5 games, which has never happened in school history. I think either their defense is still sub-par (by Auburn standards) or they were playing it safe to keep their cards close. If the same D shows up that let Arky State gain 26, it will be a very good night for the Bulldog offense.
Our O-line is much improved over last year with plenty of experience. Chad Bumphis and Brandon Heavens are dangerous in the secondary, as well as Leon Berry. Our running back trifecta of Robert Elliot, Vic Ballard and LaDarius Perkins are efficient as well.
Our QBs, Chris Relf and Tyler Russell, compliment each other well. Expect to see more of Relf tonight as State tries to control the ball on the ground with plenty of option play and running the ball in an attempt to keep Cam Newton off the field as much as possible. Tyler Russell will be used to spell Relf and to give the offense a different look to keep the Auburn D on their toes.
Sure, Auburn hung 56 on Ark. State, but that was Ark. State. Cam Newton had all the time in the world to let plays develop and was throwing to wide-open receivers that could easily outrun their defender. That will not be the case tonight. Pernell McPhee, James Carmon and Fletcher Cox will be providing plenty of pressure up front, and our secondary will be able to keep in step with the Auburn WRs and make plays when needed.
I look for this to be a close, relative high scoring game. I think Mississippi State is itching to make a statement about its status in the SEC West and Auburn wants to stay in the picture for the SEC Championship game. I am looking for State to squeak by with a W tonight, possibly by less than a field goal.