War Eagle Extra

Dominance not comforting to Tigers

AUBURN, Ala. — Dominance in the past doesn’t help the Auburn Tigers right now.

Auburn has owned Mississippi State for the last six years, winning six consecutive games by a margin of 208-55. Only one of those games — in 2001 — was close. That year, the Bulldogs lost 16-14 in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

It doesn’t mean a thing, however, with Auburn struggling more than it has in recent years. A 26-23 overtime loss to South Florida a week ago left the Tigers reeling. They have greater concerns than the incoming Bulldogs, said coach Tommy Tuberville.

"They’ve got momentum coming off a win over Tulane on the road, but we’ve got to be concerned about ourselves," Tuberville said. "We’re our own worst enemy right now. We’ve got to make headway in a lot of areas."

Auburn will host Mississippi State today at 12:30 p.m. in the Tigers’ SEC opener. The game will be televised locally on CBS. The Tigers (1-1, 0-0 SEC) hope the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1) provide a get-well tonic. Auburn has won the last two meetings by shutouts, 28-0 and 34-0. The Tiger defense has played well enough to post a third consecutive shutout. Most of Auburn’s struggles in the first two games have been on the offensive side.

Auburn turned the ball over five times against South Florida. The defense denied the Bulls points off those turnovers, but South Florida eventually wore down the defense for the winning points.

Auburn quarterback Brandon Cox faced a gauntlet this week with fans demanding he be replaced after he threw two interceptions and fumbled against South Florida. He passed for just 165 yards. He will start for the Tigers today, but don’t look for things to get easier against an MSU defense rated fifth in the league.

The Bulldogs are allowing just 295 total yards — just 121 yards rushing and 174 passing. The Tigers haven’t exactly lit it up offensively. Auburn is ranked last in the league in total offense at 290 yards per game.

"They’ve established what they’re doing on both sides of the ball," Tuberville said. "One of their defensive ends is a good player, but their whole defense stands out in terms of how they play. They’ve got a good scheme."

Titus Brown would be that defensive end and he’s been a solid pass-rusher for the Bulldogs. Linebacker Dominique Douglas leads the team with 12 tackles.

Tuberville also singled out MSU running back Anthony Dixon, who rushed for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the Bulldogs’ win over Tulane last week.

Contact Christa Turner at 706-571-8505