First take: A quick look at Mississippi State

rblack@ledger-enquirer.comSeptember 8, 2013 

Who: Mississippi State (1-1; beat Alcorn State 51-7 on Saturday) at Auburn (2-0; beat Arkansas State 38-9 on Saturday)

When: Saturday, 7 p.m. ET

Where: Jordan-Hare Stadium (87,451) | Auburn, Ala.

TV: ESPN2

Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-102.9 FM in Columbus; WGZZ-94.3 FM in Auburn/Opelika)

All-time series: Auburn leads 60-24-2

When last they met: It was a dismal day for Auburn in Davis Wade Stadium last season. There was one highlight, as the Tigers grabbed a brief 10-7 lead after Onterio McCalebb ran the opening kickoff of the second half back 100 yards for a touchdown. But from there, it was all Mississippi State, as the Bulldogs ran off 21 straight points to pick up a 28-10 win at home. And to say the Tigers’ offense was "abysmal" may not be a harsh enough term — through three quarters, they compiled just 90 total yards. Most of the issues stemmed from quarterback Kiehl Frazier, who struggled mightily. He committed five turnovers by himself, tossing three interceptions and losing two fumbles. He finished 13 of 22 for 125 yards, leading just one scoring drive (a 12-play, 33-yard effort in the second quarter that ended with a 23-yard field goal from Cody Parkey), and totaling negative passing yards (minus-2) in the first half. His counterpart, the Bulldogs’ Tyler Russell, inverted Frazier’s numbers by throwing for three touchdowns and no interceptions. It was an efficient performance for Russell, as he completed 20 of his 29 attempts (69 percent) for 222 yards. It was a victory of streak-busting proportions on multiple fronts for the Bulldogs. They snapped a four-game losing streak to the Tigers, and won their SEC opener for the first time since 1999. And it marked the first win for Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen against the “big four” of the Western Division (Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn and LSU) since arriving in Starkville, Miss., in December 2008. Prior to this victory, he had been 0-12 against that quartet.

Quick facts on Mississippi State: Mullen is 30-23 in four seasons at Mississippi State entering Saturday. Mullen's 30 victories are the fourth-most in the Bulldogs' annals, trailing Jackie Sherrill (75), Allyn McKeen (65) and Emory Bellard (37). ... The Bulldogs improved to 4-1 in its home openers under Mullen with their 51-7 victory over Alcorn State on Saturday. The win also helped Mullen become the first coach in school history to win 30 games in five seasons. The Bulldogs are just 2-7 in their last nine games, however, after beginning last season 7-0. ... Sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott made his first career start in place of the injured Russell, and set career-highs in for attempts (19), completions (12), yards (174) and touchdown passes (two). ... Mississippi State has won 17 consecutive games where it lead at halftime. Similarly, the Bulldogs haven't lost a game under Mullen where it led heading into the final quarter, sporting a 29-0 record.

Which Tiger is primed for a big performance: Forget about Mississippi State's game Saturday. The Braves came in and got their expected beatdown. A better game to look at for the Tigers is the Bulldogs' season opener. There, Mississippi State fell 21-3 to Oklahoma State. More importantly, the Bulldogs allowed 286 rushing yards. With the Tigers averaging nearly 300 per contest, expect head coach Gus Malzahn to feed his running back triumvirate — Tre Mason, Cameron Artis-Payne and Corey Grant — early and often.

Which Bulldog could give the home team fits: Given how he played against the Tigers last season, Russell is the player to look for assuming he's healthy. In his Sunday teleconference with reporters, Mullen said the signal-caller would start as he was medically cleared to do so. In their first two games, the Tigers have allowed 344 and 272 passing yards, to Washington State and Arkansas State, respectively.

Extra point: Mississippi State is looking to finish with a winning record for the fourth consecutive season. The last time the Bulldogs pulled off the feat was from 1997-2000, when Sherrill still led the program.

Related stories:

VIDEO: Offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee says 'learning curve has got to keep going up'

Auburn notes: Coordinators Ellis Johnson and Rhett Lashlee left wanting more from Saturday's victory

Auburn football: Tigers' defensive line and linebackers bounce back after lackluster showing in opener

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service