It is no secret the pressure is on Mississippi State's Dan Mullen. Despite all he has done for Mississippi State football, the one thing that people always come back to is his inability to win in the SEC West.
Despite beating the likes of Georgia, Florida and Michigan, people always ask "when are you going to beat someone not named Ole Miss in the West?"
With recent short comings verses LSU, Auburn and Arkansas, the Bulldog faithful long for their team to close the deal in one of these close games and step into that "next level" of the SEC West.
That step comes this weekend as we look at three reasons why Mississippi State will finally get over the hump and defeat the Auburn Tigers when they meet this Saturday for the Bloody Mary game at 11 a.m. CST on ESPN.
Reason One: Mississippi State will make Kiehl Frazier throw the football.
Auburn totally flipped schemes and coordinators in the offseason, going from Gus Malzahn and the spread to Scott Loeffler and back to a pro-style offense.
Auburn mustered 374 yards of offense last week verses Clemson but looked out of sync at times and for Kiehl Frazier, it is going to take some time to go from the spread to a pro-style of play. Frazier was recruited to be a spread quarterback and now his growing pains are showing in this new offense.
Look for Mississippi State to stack the box, and make Kiehl Frazier throw the football.
It is apparent that the Tigers want to lean on running backs Tre Mason and Ontario McCalebb. Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson will make sure to take the running game away from Auburn and lean on that experience in the secondary to make plays when Frazier has to throw the football.
The Bulldogs will lock either John Banks or Darius Slay on Emory Blake and with the experience in the secondary and the ability to rush the passer, Mississippi State wins this battle all day long.
Reason Two: Mississippi State will be successful running the football
Auburn's inability to slow people down on the ground last year was a concern as the Tigers gave up 189 yards per game. In steps new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder to help head coach Gene Chizik fix the Tigers' defensive issues—but it is going to take some time.
Last week Clemson piled up 320 yards on the ground verses the Tigers and if you are a Mississippi State running back, you are salivating watching game film. The Bulldogs last year rushed for 333 yards against the Tigers and look for State to again have success running the football.
Yes this is Tyler Russell's team and yes Dan Mullen has said the Bulldogs will throw the ball more often, but do not let the head coach fool you.
Everywhere he has been, Mullen has shown he wants to run the football and look for State to set up the run with Russell's arm in this game. The Bulldogs do not have that "feature back" established yet like in years past, but the quartet of Ladarius Perkins, Nick Griffin, Josh Robinson and Derek Milton will provide plenty of yards and issues for the Tigers.
Reason Three: Dan Mullen's coaching and staff trumps Chizik's everyday and twice on Sundays
With the exception of the recent exit of wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando, Dan Mullen has done a good job of keeping his coaching staff in tact. Chris Wilson was promoted to defensive coordinator after Many Diaz left for Texas in 2011, and the transition seemed seamless last year.
The players seem to be very comfortable with this staff as most of the coaches have been with Dan Mullen since day one in 2009.
The same cannot be said for Auburn and Gene Chizik. Chizik is replacing offensive and defensive coordinators this season and changing schemes. This drastic of a change in not only coaches but scheme takes time to see positive results for anyone.
You will continue to see blown assignments from both units this weekend for the Tigers as they are still learning under new coaching and developing new schemes.
Finally, Gene Chizik does not impress me as a head coach. Yes he won a National Championship but thank Cam Newton for that.
If you take the 2010 season out of Chizik's resume his overall record would be 21-30. Gene Chizik is an average coach at best and after Saturday, the heat will be on him from the Auburn faithful as his Tigers will have started the 2012 season 0-2.
As for Dan Mullen? The monkey will be off his back as he will have finally beaten someone else in the west not named Mississippi.