Mississippi State vs Auburn SEC Preview, Odds, and Free Prediction

Coming off an embarrassing loss to Georgia, the 24th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to another SEC contender, Auburn. The 13th-ranked Tigers will have Jordan-Hare Stadium rocking with 6:00 EST Saturday showdown in Auburn, Alabama. The game can be seen on ESPN.

Miss State Bulldogs vs. Auburn Tigers CFB Odds and Team Previews

Mississippi State has been the tale of two teams. They stormed through their first three games, capping it off with a 37-7 thumping of LSU. Then they went into Athens and found out things are a lot different away from the cowbells. They lost 31-3, and are now the most suspicious team in the league.

But they still have a quarterback, Nick Fitzgerald, who’s capable against SEC defenses, even if that definitely wasn’t the case against the elite Georgia D. Having Donald Gray and Keith Mixon in the passing game are big assets, but Fitzgerald’s legs and those of RB Aeris Williams (360 yards, 6.1 avg.) are what will guide the Bulldogs if they are to beat War Eagle.

Auburn is riding high after coach Gus Malzahn was once on the hot seat. They have an impressive defense of their own, one that even held the defending national champion to 14 points, albeit in a loss. MLB Tre Williams has started off hot, and the rest of the defense has provided a spread of wealth (15 players have tackles for loss).

Auburn will also lean on their run game, with the combination of Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson being one of the best in college football. They’re the true definition of a bruiser and a speedster, and the change the pace of the running game can wear down defenses with their separate skillsets.

The Tigers come in as 9.5-point favorites.

NCAAF Point Spread Prediction: Mississippi State +9.5

How real is this Mississippi State team? Well, they’re probably nestled down in the middle of where their last two weeks have gone. And that’s good enough to contend with Auburn, even if they don’t necessarily beat them.

The Tigers has found some sort of a passing game with Baylor-transfer Jarrett Stidham, but the Bulldogs have mostly shut down that phase of the game for opponents. Georgia’s Jake Fromm got some good looks in the passing game simply because they’d already controlled the game on the ground, and that’s where Auburn will have to make its profit from again.

Pettway hasn’t exactly started with a bang, as he only has 3.6 yards per-carry in a season where he’s been hampered by an injury. He’s expected to return for the game against the Bulldogs, as is Kam Martin, a sophomore who’s been dynamic so far with a 9.1 avg. Throw in Kerryon Johnson too, and this could be an opportunity to discombobulate the Miss State defense.

The Bulldogs were beaten by the Georgia O-line last week and probably would’ve given up many more yards on the ground to LSU had the Tigers not fallen so far behind. But they’ve been able to keep themselves from getting totally gashed by the running game. And they’ve played some of the best running backs around, like Derrius Guice and the combo of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. It won’t get much worse for them.

Auburn does have more of a passing element than the two previous Bulldog opponents. But Miss State has flipped the narrative on their poor passing defense (120th in 2016). They’ve only given up 516 yards passing in four games combined.

The level of skill on the field will eventually get the best of Miss State, but not until late in the game. Auburn will be keying on Aeris Williams, so Fitzgerald is going to have to make those timely throws like he did against LSU and continue to offer the defense a different look on the ground. But he’s a good enough and smart enough athlete to do it.

During this decade, the average score for Auburn in these games is 23.1, for Miss State 23.6. That shows you how easily it could go one way or another. Expect Auburn to pull it out late, but the Bulldogs to cover.

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