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Opponent preview: Auburn’s special teams

Auburn’s biggest special teams weakness is kickoff return defense.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Auburn John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Mississippi State football team will host the Auburn Tigers on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by SEC Network.

The Tigers come into the contest ranked second in the Southeastern Conference in made fields, 10th in net punting, fifth in kick return average and fifth in punt return average.

Junior kicker Anders Carlson, the brother of Raiders kicker and former Auburn All-American kicker Daniel Carlson, has made 15 of his 17 field goal attempts. He has also 22 of his 23 extra-point kicks. 30 of his 51 kickoffs have resulted in touchbacks.

The Tigers have punted the ball 36 times for 1,457 yards with a net average of 38.7. Freshman punter Oscar Chapman has booted the ball 17 times for 684 yards (40.2 average). Three of his punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line. Junior punter Aidan Marshall has made 16 punts for 676 yards (42.2). Six of his punts have been downed inside the 20. Sophomore quarterback Bo Nix has made three punts for 97 yards (32.3).

As for kick returns, Auburn has returned 21 kickoffs for 440 yards (20.95). Freshman running back Tank Bigsby leads the team with 13 returns for 306 yards (23.5). Junior running back Shaun Shivers has returned six for 102 yards (17.0).

The Tigers have returned seven punts for 70 yards. Junior defensive back Christian Tutt has returned three for 30 yards, while senior wide receiver Eli Stove has returned two for 18 yards.

The main weakness for the Auburn special teams is kickoff return defense. The Tigers have allowed 13 kickoffs for 309 yards (23.7). That ranks 105th in the nation.