With a final score of 49-24, it's obvious that this year's tussle between Auburn and Mississippi State was not a repeat of last year's ugly 3-2 slopfest. But just how different was it?
- Last year, the teams combined for 431 total yards. This year, Auburn alone had 589, more than 150 yards more.
- Auburn's rushing game alone got 390 yards on Saturday.
- MIssissippi State only contributed 116 yards to the 2008 total, but in 2009 the Bulldogs gained 297 yards, or 65 more than double.
- Auburn didn't kick its field goal in 2008 until 7:38 to go in the second quarter. Auburn scored its first touchdown (thereby outscoring both teams in '08) with less than seven minutes gone in the first quarter.
- Mississippi State surpassed its number of first downs in 2008 in the middle of the first quarter on 2009's game. It wasn't actually that hard though - the Bulldogs didn't convert a single one last year.
- Auburn itself only had three third down conversions in 2008's game. The Tigers doubled that in 2009.
- Auburn alone had three players rush for more than seven yards a carry on Saturday. Mississippi State had one in quarterback Chris Relf. Only one player passed that plateau in 2008, and that was Auburn's Mario Fannin with his one carry for 12 yards.
I could go on and on, but I think the point has been made. The offenses for both teams played a lot better, and for as much as everyone is banging on Mississippi State, the Bulldogs gained nearly 300 yards of offense on Auburn. That's way up from last year and a mark which the Mississippi State offense has struggled to get to against defenses that have a pulse.
For all the big changes we've seen year over year, this matchup represents one of the biggest ones. Auburn is playing to the strengths of its players again, and Mississippi State can actually move the ball some against a good defense. These won't become lasting conclusions until these instances become patterns, but it is good to see for the strength of the league.