Auburn (3-2) vs Mississippi State (2-2)
After five straight home games to open the season, Auburn faces its first road test Saturday at Mississippi State (Enter Contests). The game, meanwhile, will be the first home date for the Bulldogs in nearly a month as they’re coming off two road games followed by a bye last weekend.
The Tigers have played a demanding schedule so far, going 1-2 against ranked foes Clemson, Texas A&M and LSU, mixed in with blowout wins over Arkansas State and last week against ULM. They’ve have posted the best rushing numbers (269.8 yards per game) in the SEC so far behind tailbacks Kerryon Johnson (103.4) and Kamryn Pettway (84.0). Pettway didn’t play last Saturday’s 56-7 win over ULM. It was for precautionary measure because of a bruised quad. He’s expected to return this Saturday along with center Xavier Dampeer, who was also held out last week.
The Auburn defense, led by cornerback Johnathan Ford (31 total tackles) and defensive end Carl Lawson (four sacks) has held four of five foes to fewer than 20 points and ranks fifth in the conference in total defense (358.4 yards allowed per game). Quarterback Sean White has completed 33-of-43 passes for 473 yards, two TDs and no interceptions over the last two games. Auburn has dominated the overall series 61-26-2, but Mississippi State has won three of the last four, including a 17-9 road victory last season.
ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE
Mississippi State, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down first month, losing to South Alabama (21-20) in the opener and then alternating wins and a loss against South Carolina, LSU and Massachusetts. The Bulldogs will be countering Auburn’s ground game with the SEC’s fourth-ranked run defense (110.8 yards allowed), which is headed by conference tackles-for-loss leader (9.0) A.J. Jefferson, a senior defensive end. Sophomore quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has taken over for Dak Prescott and had 415 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in the Sept. 24 win over UMass. Fitzgerald also is Mississippi State’s leading rusher with 82.2 yards per outing. Wideout Fred Ross is second in the conference in receptions per game (6.2) and tied for third with four total receiving TDs. Ross’ 152 career receptions leads all active SEC players.