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Mississippi State vs. Auburn: Five Takeaways

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Final thoughts on MSU's 17-9 victory on the Plains

John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line gets better every game

There was one position unit that stood out above all other's Saturday night. MSU's offensive line played by far their best game of the season and gave Dak Prescott days of time to throw the football. This unit made marked improvements the second half against LSU and continues to get better and better with more reps.

They have their toughest test of the season coming up against Myles Garrett and Texas A&M. We'll know a lot more after that game, but as it sits right now I don't have many concerns about the o line. I understand Auburn's defense is not the same without Carl Lawson, but MSU's line went from struggling against Southern Miss to dominating a SEC road game. The arrow is pointing up.

Just embrace the change

MSU is not going to be a running team this year. Dak Prescott is not going to be a running quarterback like he was last season. If you haven't came to terms with it already, you should do so. Now am I saying a pass heavy offense is the best thing for MSU to win football games? Not long term, but right now it is. Ashton Shumpert has proven he can't be a reliable feature back and the receiver position is loaded. So I have no problem with slinging the football around.

With that being said, there will come a point when being one dimensional will result in a loss that could have been avoided. The run game is a major issue and has to be addressed. I don't understand why Dontavian Lee or Aeris Williams haven't gotten a fair opportunity to prove themselves. Brandon Holloway has been great as a change-of-pace back, but if Mullen doesn't find a work horse running back he can hang up competing for the SEC West.

WESTIN GRAVES WOULD HAVE MADE THE...

Oh just forget it. I hate to keep bringing it up, but Graves easily booted another 40+ yard field goal. I still can't believe Mullen didn't let him kick the game winner against LSU. Graves has been money. He splits the uprights almost every time out and it doesn't look to me like distance is a problem for him. Man, it's awesome to have a reliable kicker for the second year in a row.

I don't know what to make of the defense

First off, let me say what a heck of an effort to keep Auburn out of the end zone. Any time you keep a Gus Malzahn offense from scoring a touchdown, you have done something. Auburn got their yards but MSU tightened up when it mattered. Manny Diaz deserves a lot of credit for ramping up the pressure on the young QB in the fourth quarter.

All that being said, the jury is still out on this defense. They show flashes of being great but then they get pushed around. They struggle to bring down the ball carrier at first contact and they've been inconsistent defending the run. They also haven't been truly tested in the passing game and that's why I'm nervous about the Texas A&M game. I'm not ready to crown Diaz the man for the job just yet, but it's encouraging to see the red zone and third down defense dominate.

We're still in the hunt

It was frustrating to see the offense struggle in the second half. I thought this should have been a 21 point victory. But they pulled out a win and that's the most important thing. A loss would have killed the season, plain and simple. It was practically an SEC West elimination game, and Auburn can now stick a fork in it. As for State, the importance of next week's game can't be stated enough. I hate to look too far ahead but with a victory next week, all signs point to an 8-1 MSU team facing Bama at home in November. If they lose to A&M they can still have a good season, but probably not a great one.

We'll know a lot more about this team after next week's game. It's scary to think they haven't even came close to reaching their full potential. If Mullen stops being stubborn and figures out the running back situation, we could be in for another special season.