This week the Mississippi St. Bulldogs play host to the Auburn Tigers within the friendly confines of Davis Wade Stadium and the Bulldogs are going to need a butt in each seat. It’s true the team is suffering, the rumbles are in the air from Gulfport to Corinth, Meridian to Natchez; calls for players to be benched, coaches to be fired. The disappointment is abounding and liquor sales in North Mississippi are at an all-time high. While most see the #8 in front of the name Auburn Tigers and the indigestion sets in, rest easy my friends, I’m about to break down the numbers and show you why we, the fans, are the deciding factor this weekend. Let’s not dwell on Kentucky or the sting that came with Mullen’s Gators, like the great Yogi Berra once said, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
AUBURN PASSING vs MISSISSIPPI STATE DEFENSE:
Auburn’s aerial attack isn’t exactly raking in the numbers this year, but with a group of big, physical wide receivers and a QB that isn’t a slouch, its an aspect of the game that can’t be ignored. The Tigers have thrown for 988 yards so far this year, averaging 7.4 yards per catch and 197.6 yards per game. Throwing only 2 interceptions and a completion percentage of 63%, the Tiger’s QB can’t be allowed to get comfortable, which shouldn’t be too hard, considering their offensive line has had to pull him out from underneath a linebacker 10 times this year.
Mississippi State’s defense against the pass is exactly what Auburn doesn’t need, allowing only 166 yards per game. If there is any aspect of the secondary that can exploited, its that 10 yards per pass isn’t a pretty number, an average like that is allowing drives to stay alive a little too often. State is averaging 2 interceptions per game and only allows, on average, 2 passing plays over 20 yards per contest.
MISSISSIPPI STATE PASSING vs AUBURN DEFENSE:
The Bulldogs have tossed the rock for 1,071 yards this season, averaging 7.4 yards per catch and 214.2 yards per game. A total of 3 interceptions doesn’t help matters and 11 sacks make it worse. Mississippi State and Nick Fitzgerald specifically have never been known for passing but if the offensive line could pick up a defensive end, occasionally, I’m sure Nick would greatly appreciate it, the guys operating the scoreboard would, they’re getting bored up there.
The Tigers are allowing 211 yards per game through the air at 11.9 yards per play and although they average 3 interceptions per game, they average 4 plays of 20 yards or more. That’s a lot of real estate in a short amount of time. 11.9 yards per pass is a lot, but teams average throwing the ball 34 times per game against Auburn and that means that at least 1 out of 4 passes are going for some distance.
AUBURN RUSHING vs MISSISSIPPI STATE DEFENSE:
The Tigers have a rushing game that when compared to years past is nonexistent, with only 893 yards to date, that’s an average of 178 yards per game. The Tigers have run the ball into the promised land 13 times with an average of 4.1 yards per carry but with 214 total rush attempts, this is a scoring average of only 16%
Hey Trump, I got your wall right here and it’s the Mississippi State defense against the run! The Bulldogs are allowing an average of 120 yards per game at 3.29 yards per carry, so it’s safe to say that Auburn just might find it more convenient to not even try?
MISSISSIPPI STATE RUSHING vs AUBURN DEFENSE:
The Bulldogs have a running game. Let me repeat that in case Coach Joe didn’t hear me, “WE HAVE A RUNNING GAME!!” The secret to the run is that you must use it, cause when we do, the Bulldogs are averaging 219 yards per game at 5.9 yards per carry. I do have to admit, if this is the week that Mississippi State decides to start running more, they’ve got a defense that’s ready for ‘em.
Auburn’s run defense is only allowing an average of 92.8 yards per game at a per carry average of only 2.75 yards. The most rushing yards the Tigers have allowed so far this season was 149 against Arkansas and that was because they ran it outside of the tackles, again, and again and again and again. Auburn’s defensive line is built much like our own, you avoid them, at all cost.
That’s the numbers, they are what they are and it’s easy to see that whether is defense or offense, Auburn or Mississippi State they’re almost identical on paper. Let me remind you what’s not on paper, you the fans, the faithful that will be there Saturday night with a cowbell in hand and love for the Maroon and White in your hearts. These two teams are so identical that choosing a winner is nearly impossible, but the biggest difference is that one of these teams is ours. Cheer the boys on Saturday night and get loud, you just might be what separates these two teams.