No. 2 Auburn Tigers (5-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. No. 3 Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-0 SU, 4-1 ATS)
College Football Week 7
Date and Time: Saturday October 11th, 2014. 3:30PM EST
Where: Davis Wade Stadium Starkville, M.S.
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: AU -3/MSU +3
Over/Under Total: 63
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ESPN College GameDay returns to the state of Mississippi again this week with the much anticipated showdown between the no. 2 Auburn Tigers and the no. 3 Mississippi State Bulldogs. Last week, College GameDay was in Oxford to witness Ole Misss upset over Alabama marking the Rebels first win over a no. 1 ranked team. However about 100 miles southeast of Oxford, Dan Mullens Mississippi State Bulldogs were sending similar shockwaves throughout the state. The Bulldogs dominated no. 6 Texas A&M in a 48-31 rout to set the stage for this Saturdays battle of unbeaten between the Bulldogs and the 2nd ranked Auburn Tigers.
Despite the impressive round of upsets in the state of Mississippi last Saturday, Auburns obliteration over LSU may have been the most shocking. The Tigers entered the Plains as 7 point favorites against LSU in a game that many thought would be extremely close. However it was anything but close as Auburn dominated LSU in every facet of the game in a 41-7 shellacking. Auburns huge statement win was the largest margin of victory ever over a Les Miles coached LSU team. In fact the last two teams to beat LSU by at least 21 points, both won the National Championship (Florida 2008/Alabama 2011). This week the Tigers look to keep their momentum alive in another big road test in Starkville.
The Tigers enter Starkville as rather small 3 point favorites over the Bulldogs in a most intriguing matchup. Both Auburn and Mississippi States statistics nearly mirror each other on paper. Both teams have a top 15 ranked rushing offense averaging near 270 yards per game on the ground. Additionally both teams also rank inside the top 15 in scoring and have a top 25 scoring defense allowing less than 20 points per game. The offensive similarities are especially noticeable with both the Bulldogs and Tigers rushing attacks. Both teams use an option style rushing attack with quarterbacks that are heavily involved in the ground game.
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Last week Bulldogs quarterback Dak Prescott accounted for 5 touchdowns in the victory over the Aggies. Prescott was a solid 20 of 26 passing for 268 yards with two scores and also rushed for 77 yards and 3 touchdowns. Prescott currently ranks 2nd on the team with 455 yards rushing behind running back Josh Robinson (592 yards) and has thrown 13 touchdowns with just 2 picks on the season. As you can see, Mississippi State has done a great job of running the football, hitting a few passes, and ultimately protecting the football which has been the key to their success. Auburns offense has maintained a similar recipe with quarterback Nick Marshall and running back Cameron Artis-Payne. Marshall has tossed 8 touchdowns with just 1 interception on the season and also ranks 2nd in rushing with 392 yards on the ground. Artis-Payne has led the efforts for the Auburn rushing attack with 110 carries for 594 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Perhaps the most telling aspect of Saturdays potential outcome will be decided by the defenses. Both defenses should have a good feel of what to expect from their opponent this Saturday from the fact they have seen it so much in practices. The Tigers defense has been exceptionally strong all year giving up 21 points or less in every outing. However, Mississippi States defense still has the talent to contend this Saturday and they will have an extremely important factor behind them in the home crowd.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Both teams have been excellent against the books with Mississippi State covering 9 of their last 10 games ATS and Auburn covering the spread in 14 of their last 16 games. Therefore team trends can be thrown out in this instance. This Saturdays matchup will come down to the offense that can make the big plays and the defense that can get the important stops. I feel like Auburn should be closer to perhaps a 10 point favorite than the 3 they are laying. I believe the pollsters may have jumped a bit too quick on the Bulldogs two wins this year against an LSU team that is obviously not as good as most thought and a Aggies team last week that could not stop the run. Expect Auburn to take care of business again this week. Take Auburn -3!