#2 Auburn at #3 Mississippi State Preview and Predictions

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Oct 4, 2014; Starkville, MS, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs celebrate defeating the Texas A&M Aggies at Davis Wade Stadium. The Bulldogs defeated the Aggies 48-31. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State’s Keys to Victory

1. Don’t be overwhelmed by the atmosphere. This sounds like a weird key considering they’re playing at home. The fact is, Mississippi State’s never played in a game like this. Auburn’s advantage in this game is that they’ve been here before. The final three games of Auburn’s 2013 season were all top 5 match-ups (#4 Auburn vs. #1 Alabama, #3 Auburn vs. #5 Missouri and #2 Auburn vs. #1 Florida State). Auburn won 2 of 3, obviously, and fell just short of a perfect record in those games. Auburn knows how to approach a game like this. How will Mississippi State react to this spotlight? No one knows. However, Auburn should, as usual, show up and execute their plan as they always do, so the Bulldogs need to react positively to this newfound spotlight.

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  • 2. Establish a pass rush on Nick Marshall.  This is a true battle of strength-on-strength here. Auburn’s offensive line has been great this season, only allowing three sacks in 5 games (tied for 3rd in the FBS). Mississippi State’s defense, meanwhile, has sacked opposing quarterbacks 18 times this season. The Bulldogs have a weak secondary, as I mentioned earlier, but their front seven is tenacious. Against an offense as talented as Auburn’s, Mississippi State has to create pressure on Nick Marshall and sack him. It’s not enough to get him out of the pocket, because he’s just as dangerous outside of the pocket as he is inside of it. If the Bulldogs can get to Marshall and consistently make contact, the rhythm of the Tigers’ offense could be thrown off.

    3. Dak Attack! Every once in a while, a school will find a quarterback that makes a lasting impact and leads his program to new heights. For Florida, it was Tim Tebow. For Auburn, it was Cam Newton. I’m not crowning Dak Prescott Mississippi State’s savior yet, because there’s plenty of games left in his career. However, he’s as talented a quarterback as the Bulldogs have ever had, and they need him to step up against an improved Auburn defense. He’s a perfect fit for this offense and he’s played against Auburn before. If Dak Prescott breaks loose against Auburn, the Bulldogs have to like their chances.