Betting Line: Auburn -2
The Mississippi State Bulldogs started their season off very smoothly by smashing the Memphis Tigers 49-7. With 7 starters back on both sides of the ball they have high hopes for their 2010 campaign. HC Dan Mullen will have his hands full this week with the Auburn Tigers. Last years matchup resulted in a 49-24 victory for the Tigers. This year the Bulldogs will play host. Auburn started the year off with a bang by smashing the overmatched Arkansas State Red Wolves 52-26. Auburn opened up as a -2 point road favorite in this one which is where the line is as of this write up. We wouldn’t be surprised to see this line drop to pick or even Miss St as a slight favorite after their performance last week. Let’s see how these SEC foes stack up against one another.
Auburn fans weren’t too thrilled with the hiring of Gene Chizik last year, but so far it seems to have been a good move. They return 15 starters from a team that finished 8-5 with a win in the OUtback Bowl a season ago. QB Cameron Newton is imposing physical specimen standing 6-6 and weighing in at 247 lbs. The JUCO transfer connected on 9 of 14 attempts for 186 yards and 3 TDs against Arkansas State. He rushed for 171 more yards and 2 more TDs. Red Wolves coach Steve Roberts praised his foe by saying Newton’s performance was the best he had ever seen in a live Game.
Auburn also got production from freshman RB Michael Dyer. The Little Rock, AR native carried the ball 14 times for 95 yards and a TD. All in all, the offense looks more than strong enough to put up points against just about anyone, especially if Newton continues to play out of his mind. If there is a chink in the Tigers armor it is on defense. The defensive line couldn’t stop the run last year, and until they do it against a big time team this year we have to think they still cant do it. Playing on the road hasn’t been easy on this team. They were 1-3 last year when traveling. Last time they played the Bulldogs on the road they earned a 3-2 victory thanks to a brilliant defensive effort.
The Mississippi State Bulldog’s season opening victory came in large part to a balanced offensive attack. QB Tyler Rusell connected on 13 of 16 tries for 256 yards and 4 TDs. RB Vick Ballard had 7 carries for 60 yards and 2 TD. He was able to break free and GAin 51 yards on a single attempt. The Bulldogs rushing Game picked up a total of 197 yards. The defense was stout with CB Maurice LAngston grabbing 2 INTs. The Bulldogs were very efficient in this Game, but this should surprise anyone as they were playing a very weak Memphis Tigers team. They will find the Tigers at Auburn to be of a different breed.
The biggest problem in this Game for the Bulldogs will be trying to stop the dual threat of QB Cameron Newton. Their defensive line is much improved, but is it good enough to contain him? If it is, they will find themselves with a shot to win here. If not, it could be a long day. Dan Mullen’s Spread offense is likely to get points. Vick Ballard is too good to be contained the entire Game. Mississippi State has to stop Auburn from putting up big points. If they can turn this Game into a defensive battle their chances of winning will sky rocket. It’s not likely they can win if this Game turns into a shootout.
While Miss State lost to Auburn last year, they managed to play better than Auburn against some common opponents. Miss State lost to LSU by just 4 while Auburn was hammered 31-10. Miss St beat Kentucky while Auburn lost 21-14. Through the years, Auburn has traditionally pounded Miss St by 30+ points each time out. In 2007 and 2008 Miss St closed the GAp with 1 and 5 point losses before last years romp. Talent wise, this may be the closest Miss St gets to Auburn. In other words, if they are going to be this team, there’s no time like the present. At home, on National TV before a wild Thursday night crowd may be just the right boost they need to put them over the top. We’ll call for the upset here. Mississippi State +2