So Jackson State wasn't really a game where the Bulldogs had to successfully exploit certain advantages and matchups to win the game. Quite simply put, there were advantages all over the field at every position for Dan Mullen and company. This weekend, however, SEC play begins and a positional advantage here or there could come into play and be the difference.
The secondary has the talent to cause a lot of teams trouble this season and should provide a favorable matchup in most games in 2012. I have stated that many times before.
The matchup that might prove to be to be the one to keep an eye on this week is the Mississippi State stable of running backs against the Auburn D. Last week Andre Ellington was able to gash the Auburn defense for 8.9 yards per carry. He rushed for a total of 231 yards on 26 carries. If Ladarius Perkins and company can emulate Ellington's performance then the Dawgs will be darn hard to beat in Davis-Wade on Saturday.
Another reason the Dawgs will need the running backs to step up in this game is because they will be missing their biggest offensive weapon from the 2011 matchup with the Tigers, Chris Relf. Relf was able to surpass the 100-yard mark against Gene Chizik's defense last year. And no shot at Tyler Russell here, but I don't see him doing any kind of Chris Relf impersonation. Just saying.
So now to the area where MSU should be able take advantage. The secondary. I think that Johnthan Banks, Corey Broomfield, Darius Slay and company should be able to beat up on a young and still inexperienced Kiehl Frazier. Against Clemson's secondary Frazier was just 11-27 and threw an interception, and seemed shaky overall. He looked stiff in the pocket and did not show his athleticism. He played like a quarterback that did not know what he was doing out there. If the front seven is able to pressure Frazier at all on Saturday then I think it could be a long day for the Auburn passing game.
However, with that being said, Emory Blake knows how to get open for the Tigers and Philip Lutzenkirchen just seems to make plays. If Frazier is able to get the ball in the hands of his play makers then it might not be such a walk in the park. And a backfield that features Onterio McCalebb and Tre Mason will not be easy to corral.
So there you have it, if the MSU backfield can light up the Auburn defense as Andre Ellington did in the opener and the MSU secondary can live up to their billing, Dan Mullen should capture his first SEC win against a team not named Ole Miss.
This will likely be a season-defining game for each team. Their seasons could go completely different directions depending on the outcome of the game and both teams will come to play and grind in this one. Should be a great watch. Remember to always ring responsibly.