The first shot was unsuccessful for Auburn, but the Tigers will make another attempt at getting that elusive first win of the season on Saturday against Mississippi State.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs don't look like they'll be any easier to take down than No. 14 Clemson.
The Tigers made it close the last time out, heading into the fourth quarter knotted with Clemson at 16, but the defense couldn't hold strong, and the offense couldn't muster up anything more than a measly field goal.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, laid a 56-9 beating on Jackson State—not as tough an opponent as a team like Clemson, but their offense looked pretty intimidating. The question is: Can the Bulldogs do the same thing to an SEC rival?
Here's a look at where and when to catch the action on Saturday.
Where: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
When: Saturday, Sept. 8 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line (via Bovada): Mississippi State -6
Auburn Injuries/Suspensions (via USA Today):
- Wide receiver DeAngelo Benton has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules.
- Center Reese Dismukes has been suspended indefinitely after being arrested for public intoxication.
Mississippi State Injuries (via USA Today):
- Tight end Malcolm Johnson is out indefinitely because of an undisclosed injury.
AP/USA Today Top-25 Poll Implications
The loss to Clemson—Auburn's first top-25 opponent of the season—essentially killed any chance the Tigers had of getting into the polls for the time being.
A win against the Bulldogs would boost their odds, but they'd have to follow it up with another win against Louisiana-Monroe on Sept. 15, and then they'd have to hang tough against LSU, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
It's going to be difficult for Auburn to string together a few wins because of its schedule, but that's life in the SEC. To be the best, you have to beat the best.
Meanwhile, for the Bulldogs, following up their Week 1 win with a strong showing against Auburn would boost their profile as well. But they, too, need big wins against tough conference opponents like Tennessee and Alabama in order to get into the polls, and it may not be in the cards.
But in their case, we'll find out a lot more about how good they truly are at the end of this week.
What They're Saying
The first week may have ended with a loss, but the outlook for the Tigers isn't entirely negative. Quarterback Kiehl Frazier was making his first college start, and all things considered, he wasn't terrible.
Playing against the No. 14 team in the nation, Frazier threw for 231 yards and an early touchdown, and though his completion percentage (40.7) was lower than ideal, he also set up the Tigers for four field goals.
He put points on the board, and for a first start against a tough team, the signs were decent. As head coach Gene Chizik told the Associated Press:
I'm very proud of Kiehl. When you start your first game, you put a lot of pressure on yourself. He was escaping out there and got some critical first downs. We'll look at the film and find some things he needs to correct, but we feel he'll only get better.
Meanwhile, Mississippi State proved in its opener that its offense is going to be difficult for the Tigers to contend with. In Week 1 against Jackson State, it compiled 377 yards of total offense and held a 35-6 lead at halftime.
But the defense wasn't half bad, either; not only did it limit Jackson State to a touchdown and a field goal, but it also forced two picks—and returned them both for touchdowns.
By all indications, this team was clicking on all cylinders, and it could prove to be difficult for any team to stop it. The first SEC game of the season will be a good test to establish just how capable the Bulldogs are of doing something special.
Auburn Player to Watch
Rushing for 100-plus yards against a difficult (and ranked) ACC opponent is no small feat, and that's precisely what running back Tre Mason did on Saturday, compiling 106 yards on 14 carries against Clemson, his second career start.
Already, Mason is 55 yards away from matching his 2011 season totals, so it's safe to say he's proven to Chizik that he's ready to handle the workload he's going to be given this season.
Mississippi State Player(s) to Watch
On Saturday, the Bulldogs' secondary proved to be a force to be reckoned with, as senior Darius Slay and sophomore Matthew Wells each came up with a pick-six.
We all know that defense wins championships, and though nobody's saying that Mississippi State is a championship contender quite yet, the fact that the defense was so strong is a good sign heading into the first SEC matchup of the season.
This is a must-win of sorts for both teams, though of a different variety for each of them.
Beating up on a SWAC opponent in the first game of the season is one thing; beating up on a conference foe is another, especially when you come from the most formidable conference in college football.
Similarly, dropping the first game of the season to an ACC team—and making it close—is pretty good for a first-year quarterback.
Both Mississippi State and Auburn will be facing an entirely different beast in Week 2 than the one they saw in Week 1.
For the Bulldogs, the second matchup will be a true test of their worth, because even though scoring that many touchdowns right off the bat in the first matchup is impressive, it will be a lot harder for their offense to thrive against an SEC opponent.
Auburn, meanwhile, was OK in the season opener, but it just couldn't hold on in the final quarter. It will get an opportunity to rectify that against an equally tough opponent this weekend, and if it succeeds, we'll be singing a totally different tune about this team at this time next week.
Prediction: Mississippi State Wins
True, the Tigers faced a tougher opponent in Week 1, but first-year quarterbacks are always wild cards, and the Bulldogs defense proved to be just as dangerous as their offense in the opening game.
Plus, the fact that Auburn's defense couldn't hold strong in the final quarter isn't a good sign heading into a game against an opponent that just put up 56 points.
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