Auburn (0-1) at Mississippi State (1-0)|
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 8, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Davis Wade Stadium (55,082) -- Starkville, Mississippi.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: Auburn 0-0, MSU 1-0. Away Record: Auburn 0-0,
MSU 0-0. Neutral Record: Auburn 0-1, MSU 0-0. Conference Record: Auburn 0-0,
MSU 0-0. Series Record: Auburn leads, 60-23-2.
GAME NOTES: The long and brutal SEC schedule opens up on Saturday afternoon
for a pair of teams, as the Auburn Tigers make the trek to Starkville to take
on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
Auburn's season opener came in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia
Dome against nationally-ranked Clemson. AU found itself up by a field goal
late in the fourth quarter, but ultimately fell in the hard-fought battle,
Mississippi State faced FCS opponent Jackson State in its opener, and the
outcome was about as strong as the team could have hoped for. The Bulldogs
clicked on all cylinders, opening the game with 35 straight points en route to
an easy 56-9 win. It marked the second straight season that they have opened
up their season with a 50-point effort (59-14 over Memphis on Sept. 1, 2011).
MSU has won 12 straight non-conference games and is 4-0 in season openers
under head coach Dan Mullen.
Despite their recent success early in the year, the Bulldogs have not fared
well in SEC openers, dropping 12 consecutive conference lidlifters.
Auburn holds a 60-23-2 lead in the series between these two programs. The
Tigers have been especially dominant of late, winning nine of the last 10
meetings, including a 41-34 decision a year ago.
The Auburn offense was solid in its first game, gaining 374 yards with a near-
even split between rushing (180) and passing (194).
Kiehl Frazier was inconsistent in the first game of his sophomore season. The
signal-caller finished with 194 yards and a touchdown, but he completed just
11-of-27 passes, threw an interception and was sacked twice.
Emory Blake was Frazier's favorite target on the day, catching four balls for
109 yards, including a 54-yard touchdown in the first quarter to give Auburn
the early lead. Philip Lutzenkirchen also had a fine receiving day with four
catches for 71 yards.
Tre Mason (14 carries) and Onterio McCalebb (12 carries) had nearly an even
split in the backfield. Mason rushed for a career-high 106 yards and McCalebb
added 82, but neither found the end zone.
The defense is usually a strength for Auburn, but not against Clemson. The
unit surrendered 528 yards of total offense and was absolutely gashed on the
ground for 320 yards.
Four different players recorded double-digit tackles, but that was mostly due
to the high volume of rush attempts for Clemson (52). Daren Bates was the
standout performer. The senior linebacker made 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for
loss, a sack and an interception.
Corey Lemonier tallied two sacks and two tackles for loss. He finished among
the SEC leaders in both categories a year ago (13.5 TFL, 9.5 sacks).
The Mississippi State offense made the most of its opportunities in the
opener, scoring six touchdowns in six trips to the red zone. The unit also
went 8-of-13 on third-down conversions and 2-of-2 on fourth downs.
Tyler Russell wasn't asked to do much in the blowout victory. The QB finished
completing 15-of-24 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Dak Prescott (1-
of-4, eight yards) saw some action late in the game.
Arceto Clark and Jameon Lewis each caught three passes, but neither eclipsed
35 yards. Marcus Green and Chad Bumphis caught the two touchdown strikes from
Derrick Milton led the team in rushing with 65 yards on eight carries and he
found the end zone late in the game. LaDarius Perkins had one more carry than
Milton and gained 58 yards on the ground, pounding in two scores from seven
yards and one yard, respectively.
The Bulldog defense was suffocating against its FCS opponent, allowing just
265 yards and returning two interceptions for scores.
A 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Darius Slay put MSU up 35-0
late in the first half. Matthew Wells (22 yards) also contributed a pick-six,
and he finished with four tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack.
At this early stage of the season, both teams appear to be rather evenly
matched. Mississippi State has come a long way in recent years, and while it
isn't a contender for the SEC championship, the team has the ability to beat
anyone on any given day, and having the home crowd behind the Bulldogs will
certainly be a boost. At 0-1, Auburn has an extra sense of urgency to start
the SEC season off on the right foot. Frazier will play much better and the
Tigers will squeak out a tight one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 23
09/05 10:38:11 ET