The Auburn-Mississippi State series hasn't always produced thrilling results, but this year's edition is one of the most important games of the year. The Bulldogs host the Tigers Saturday afternoon at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.
After a narrow escape at Kansas State and a going-through-the motions win over Louisiana Tech, Auburn pummeled LSU last week to the tune of 41-7. It was one of the Tigers' best all-around performances in years. The offense hitting on all cylinders, but the real story may have been the defense. The much-improved unit put together and executed a great game plan against LSU freshman quarterback Brandon Harris.
Some wondered if Mississippi State would be able to keep rolling after an impressive victory in Baton Rouge, and the Bulldogs answered with an emphatic "yes." State pounded Texas A&M, 48-31, and it wasn't as close as the score indicated. With a perfect record, a legit Heisman contender in Dak Prescott and a huge home game this week, it's the most important week in Mississippi State football history.
How to watch, listen, and stream
Game time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Allie LaForce)
Online streaming: SEC Live
Rankings and records: Auburn is a perfect 5-0, 2-0 in SEC play, and ranked No. 2 in the AP Top 25 and Amway Coaches Poll. Mississippi State has an identical 5-0, 2-0 record, and is a program-best No. 6 in the AP Top 25 and No. 3 in the Coaches Poll. The Tigers lead the all-time series, 58-26-3, and have won 11 of 13 against the Bulldogs.
Vegas: Auburn opened as a 3-point favorite, and that line is holding steady at most sports books. The over/under is set at 63.
Weather forecast: Isolated thunderstorms with a high of 83.
Two things at stake
Well, everything's at stake: division, conference and national title hopes will be emboldened for one side and wounded for the other. Considering how well these teams have played so far, the winner has a legitimate claim to being the best team in the nation. The loser won't be able to afford another loss in the brutal SEC West.
One big matchup
The QBs and WRs vs. the secondaries
The Tigers and Bulldogs are quite similar in so many ways, not just in their schemes, but in their numbers across the board. The weakest link for both is pass defense. Auburn ranks fifth in the SEC, allowing opposing QBs to compile a 105.9 rating, and Mississippi State is eighth at 118.1.
Both teams should be able to pick up chunks on the ground, and both run defenses should come up with a few stops, as well. Whichever passing game -- or passing D -- makes fewer mistakes and more big plays may determine the outcome.