Written by Ryan Lippert
After last week featured some huge matchups involving the SEC, we, unfortunately, don’t have the same luxury this week. However, there is one game that I think has a chance to be more interesting than expected. Auburn, who has been outstanding so far this season and is currently ranked seventh in the country, hosts the 3-1 Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs are coming off a huge 28-13 victory over Kentucky and look to show the country that they are legit. With all of that in mind, let’s take a closer look at this week’s SEC Game of the Week between the Auburn Tigers and Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Can the Bulldogs Establish the Run?
As I already mentioned, the Mississippi State Bulldogs are off to a hot start so far this season. This is due in large part to their run game. They have look very good running the ball this season, led by star running back Kylin Hill. Hill has rushed for 551 yards and five touchdowns through four games this season. They also seem to have found yet another true dual-threat quarterback in freshman Garrett Schrader. Against Kentucky last week, Schrader ran for 125 yards.
While their run game has looked great so far this season, they have yet to face a defense like Auburn. Auburn has arguably one of, if not the best, front sevens in football. They are led by two senior defensive linemen that will be playing the NFL next year in Derrick Brown and Marlon Davidson. Behind them, they have Nick Coe at outside linebacker and junior linebacker KJ Britt who is second on the team in tackles with 21. This run defense has looked great so far this season, only allowing 89.5 rushing yards per game and two total rushing touchdowns. Whoever wins this matchup should have a very good chance at winning this game.
Is Bo Nix the Real Deal?
One of the big seasons for Auburn’s success so far has been the surprising play of freshman quarterback Bo Nix. Nix has stepped up to the challenge so far and has been the true leader of this Auburn offense. Through four games, Nix has completed over 50% of his passes for 645 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. His go-to receiver has been junior Eli Stove, who has 17 receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Nix will be facing a Mississippi State defense that has allowed 214 passing yards per game this season. Although they have struggled against the pass at times, they still have a very good defense. They have a solid pass rush that is led by former Last Chance U star Chauncey Rivers. Rivers only has one sack on the season but was constantly applying pressure to the quarterback against Kentucky last week. The Bulldogs also got star linebacker Willie Gay Jr. back last week after serving a suspension to start the season. He made a statement quickly last week, returning an interception for a touchdown. Unfortunately, he was ejected in the second half so he will miss this first half of this game. However, if the Bulldogs can keep it close in the first half, he should make a huge impact down the stretch in this one. I am very interested to see if Nix can keep his hot streak going and keep his hype alive this week.
This game has a chance to either be very close or get ugly quickly. I think that it will come down to the play of the two freshmen quarterbacks. Schrader will make some plays early in this game to keep the Bulldogs close. However, I just simply think Auburn is the better team and that will show down the stretch. Auburn’s defense will shut down the run game and make Schrader have to beat them. Although I think Schrader is going to be good, I don’t think he will be enough this week. I see the Tigers pulling away late with some big-time plays from Bo Nix. I have Auburn winning this one 33-21 to continue their undefeated season.