The Auburn Tigers roll into Starkville this Saturday and will be led by one of the nation’s best in quarterback Jarrett Stidham. A proven leader and student of the game, Mississippi State must throw the kitchen sink his way. While Stidham is not putting up mind boggling numbers, he knows not to turn the football over and make the right decisions.
Primarily due to injury, Auburn’s offense has slowed down and is not what it once was. That said, the Bulldogs’ defense has the requisite pieces to get at Stidham. Though he is a bit mobile, so is Mississippi State’s front line. But it is the secondary that must be on high alert, as Stidham will likely air it out downfield.
Mississippi State’s front can set the edge and get to the quarterback with ease. Ends Montez Sweat and Gerri Green are the real deal as well as tackles Jeffery Simmons and Braxton Hoyett. Set to take advantage of a banged up offensive line, expect the four mentioned above to have a day at Davis Wade.
With a chance to knock off a top 10 opponent. The Bulldogs will have that chance right in front of the home crowd, as those in and around Starkville are eager for a statement victory. Coming off a 24-13 win over Southern Mississippi, Stidham threw for 245 yards on 33 attempts, having completed 57.6 percent of his passes. Mississippi State must create turnovers, ultimately forcing Stidham to make ill-advised decisions.
He is a veteran in the college game and now familiar with SEC defenses. But Davis Wade is a hostile environment and will be in full swing. Having said that, a maximum effort is required, as there is no room for error against Stidham.
Auburn coach Gus Malzahn is well aware of Mississippi State being a staple for defensive lineman and is sure to have a plan. But does the Bulldog head man in Joe Moorhead have a counterpunch? While the Moorhead era has been off to a rocky start, a maroon and white upset of the ninth ranked team in the nation would be the perfect way to get back on track.
But the line cannot do it all themselves. The Bulldogs’ defense must come to gather as a whole in order to frustrate Stidham. Sure to come in calm, collected, and poised, he will serve as the ultimate test for Mississippi State. The question is whether or not the Bulldogs can live up and challenge Auburn’s leader.