AUBURN, Ala. – Auburn pulled off a signature road win last week and thrust itself into the middle of College Football Playoff talk, but things are only going to get more challenging. The seventh-ranked Tigers will try to keep the momentum going at home when they host a dangerous Mississippi State squad on Saturday.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Auburn -11
Auburn, which plays three straight on the road at Florida, Arkansas and LSU after this weekend, is not overlooking the unranked Bulldogs and is out for revenge after suffering a 23-9 loss at Mississippi State last season. "We're playing a very good Mississippi State team, a team that really, bottom line, embarrassed us last year," Tigers coach Gus Malzahn told reporters. "They rushed for 349 yards and we rushed for 90. That was a tough one. ... We pride ourselves on that, winning up front. You've just got to do it." The Bulldogs, who pulled off a win in their SEC opener by toppling Kentucky 28-13 last week, are aware that things might not be as easy as they were last season against Auburn. "You are not just going to line up and run the ball downhill at these guys," Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead told reporters. "It doesn't work that way. We are going to have to find creative ways to create space and angles."
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (3-1, 1-0 SEC)
The Bulldogs are still not ready to name a starting quarterback for the week with senior Tommy Stevens, who sat out last week due to an upper-body injury after being limited in the two previous contests, still working his way back. Freshman Garrett Shrader started against Kentucky, throwing for 180 yards without a touchdown and rushing for 125 yards, and will get the nod again if Stevens is unable to start. "I am not trying to be evasive with this answer, but it is a fluid situation," Moorhead told reporters. "I mentioned last week that (Stevens) was better at that point than he was the week before, but what I didn't clarify, was that it was a different mechanism. It was still an upper-body injury, but it was a little different than what he had the week before. As the week went on, he just wasn't able to go. We are anticipating him coming back to practice on Tuesday and we just have to see where it goes."
ABOUT AUBURN (4-0, 1-0)
Tigers freshman quarterback Bo Nix is averaging 161.3 passing yards and completing 53.8 percent of his attempts but did not throw an interception in any of the last three games and is leaning on a rushing attack that is averaging 259.5 yards. "I think it's real important; I think that's his best friend," Malzahn told reporters of the rushing attack helping his young quarterback. "I mean if you're able to run the football - and we are Auburn, we need to be successful running the football - when we have our good teams, we can do that. A freshman quarterback - that's his best friend." JaTarvious Whitlow is leading the running back group with 408 yards and four touchdowns while averaging five yards per carry.
1. Auburn WR Shedrick Jackson (high-ankle sprain) is questionable.
2. Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill is third in FBS and leads the SEC with 551 rushing yards.
3. The home team took six of the last eight meetings, with the Bulldogs last winning at the Tigers in 2015.
PREDICTION: Auburn 27, Mississippi State 20