Auburn Football 2010: Why Mississippi State Win Is Crucial To the SEC West Race

Matthew Donaldson@MattDonaldsonAUCorrespondent ISeptember 7, 2010

Onterio McCalebb runs against Mississippi State last season
Onterio McCalebb runs against Mississippi State last season

A quick five days after beating Arkansas State at home, Auburn must travel to Starkville, Mississippi to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. This SEC opener has “Trap Game!” written all over it for the Tigers, as State looked very dominant in their opener against Memphis. This is not the same cellar-dwelling Mississippi State team of the past decade.

They displayed an explosive two-quarterback offense and a solid defense (as always). It will take a great effort by Auburn to take down the Bulldogs on the road. Here’s why its such an important, big game.  

First of all, this is a Thursday night, national television affair. The college football world’s eyes will be on Starkville. Second year head coach Dan Mullen fully realizes this.

Mullen has repeatedly stated the importance of this game not only to his football team, but to the university and the community as a whole. They want to put on a show and prove that Mississippi State football is ready to compete in the SEC west.

The motivation for Mississippi State is obvious. They expect to go to a bowl game and compete for the SEC West title. Auburn is one of the teams they realistically think they can leap frog. So getting the Tigers at home on a Thursday night is a great formula for an upset.

Also, divisional opponents are always key in the SEC. Not only can a team gain one win with a victory, they also get the head-to-head tiebreaker that comes in play on ties.

Whoever emerges from this game victorious will be the team in best position to challenge Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU moving forward. A loss this early in the season will be crippling to the soaring expectations for both schools.

So, prepare for a showdown on Thursday night. The big unknown is if Auburn will show up as motivated as Mississippi State will be. With all that is on the line this early in the season, I’ll be surprised if the Tigers come out flat.

One thing is for certain: we’ll know a lot more about this Auburn football team on Friday morning than we do right now.