Time: 7:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. CT
TV channel: ESPN2
Watch online: WatchESPN
Odds: Auburn (-3.5), 44 (O/U)
The No. 8 Auburn Tigers (4-1) head to Starkville, Mississippi to take on SEC West foe Mississippi State (3-2). While Auburn still technically controls its own destiny, a win tonight would mean a lot to either team.
Auburn offense vs. State defense
Auburn looked decent on offense in its first game against a formidable Washington defense, but some would argue they’ve regressed since then. The most significant and consistent problem for Auburn has been its offensive line. The Tigers average 5.4 yards per play and to date have gained just 1,881 yards of total offense, which ranks 11th in the SEC. They’ll be going up against a Bulldogs defense that gives up less than 300 yards of offense per game.
Auburn OC Chip Lindsey will need to find creative ways to move the ball quickly downfield. The Tigers of 2018 aren’t known for long, sustained offensive drives that end in scores. They convert on third down just 35 percent of the time. So to avoid a long night of three-and-outs, Auburn needs to establish some sort of rhythm early. With a shaky offensive line against a hungry State defense, that won’t be easy to do.
Auburn defense vs. State offense
The Tigers defense is one of the best in the country, giving up just 305 yards of total offense per game. And don’t try to run on them, as they allow only 2.7 rushing yards per carry. That being said, Mississippi State has the talent on offense to play with anybody. The question is — will the pieces come together for that to happen tonight?
If State is going to have a chance, quarterback Nick Fitzgerald needs to have his best game of the year. Fitzgerald is completing less than 50 percent of his passes and has thrown just four touchdowns this year. Both of those numbers have to go up tonight to give the Bulldogs a chance against the Tigers defense.
For starters, I think the over/under at 44 is too high. Take the under. Mississippi State lost a tough one at home last week in Dan Mullen’s first return since his lateral move to Florida. Any chances of Auburn repeating as SEC West Champions go out the window with a loss, and all of that talk about “controlling their own destiny” is for naught.
This game is almost sure to be a defensive slugfest, but at home at night with the cowbells clanging, I think the Bulldogs will find a way to win.