The second week of the 2011 college football season marks the beginning of conference play in the SEC Western division, with the number 17-ranked Mississippi St. Bulldogs (1-0) traveling to Auburn, AL this Saturday (12:20pm ET) to take on the 22nd ranked Tigers (1-0), the defending BCS National Champions. The Bulldogs come in fresh off of a 59-14 romp on the road over woeful Memphis, while Auburn squeaked by Utah St. 42-38 at home to run their winning streak to 16 games overall. The Bulldogs and Tigers, in addition to their conference rivalry, have some bad blood between coaches Dan Mullen and Gene Chizik over the recruitment of 2010 Heisman Trophy winner Cameron Newton, so this should be an interesting game for viewers.
Auburn’s new quarterback, Barrett Trotter, played reasonably well in the opener completing 73.9% of his throws for 261 yards and 3 TDs, but the rest of the team was mediocre to completely ineffective last week and the Tigers have a lot of ground to make up if they hope to be ready for Miss. St. The running game managed a measly 78 yards on 30 carries (2.6 YPC) , the defense allowed Utah St. to hold the ball for 37 minutes out of 60 and allowed 227 rushing yards and 448 total yards against Utah St. The secondary, which was a weakness even last year, allowed Aggie QB Chuckie Keeton (who?) to complete over 70% of his passes. This type of effort needs to be improved to compete against a Bulldog offense that has scored 30 or more points in each of its last four games. Dual-threat QB Chris Relf, who is built more like a defensive end, averaged 6.6 YPC running the ball last season while averaging 6.9 YPA through the air. He is complemented on offense by Vick Ballard, one of the top returning tailbacks in the SEC who had 166 yards with 3 TDs on only 10 carries last week against Memphis.
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Mississippi St. vs. Auburn Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Mississippi St. Bulldogs -6.5
@ Auburn Tigers +6.5
Over 56.5 (-110)
Under 56.5 (-110)
Mississippi St. vs. Auburn Pick:
The Tigers won last season’s meeting 17-14 in Starkville on their way to SEC and National Championships, MSU leads the series 59-23-2. The under is 7-1 in MSU’s last 8 SEC games. Auburn is 6-2 ATS in their last 8 home games, and the over is 7-2 in their last 9 games in September and 6-2 in their last 8 SEC games. MSU is 2-7 ATS in their last 9 meetings with Auburn head-to-head, and the favorite is 7-2 ATS in the last 9 meetings between the two.
In last year’s game, Auburn QB Cam Newton did not have much success throwing the football, going only 12-21 for 158 yards against the Bulldog defense. The two teams were virtually dead even in all of the major statistical categories as MSU caught Auburn early in the season before Newton led the Tigers on their magical run. Auburn is capable of the big play; their scores last week against Utah St. came in quick bursts, so the MSU defense could be vulnerable after allowing Memphis freshman QB Taylor Reed to complete over 65% of his throws last week. The Bulldogs are explosive on offense, with +50 point outbursts in their last 2 games and 30 points or better scored in their last four, this should make for a big day against a porous Auburn secondary that only appears to have gotten worst after last year. Expect points to be scored on both sides in this one, and take the over in what should be another SEC shootout at Auburn.