The biggest game of week 7 in College Football and Mississippi State are a part of it. That just goes to show how things are changing, although who knows if it’s something that’s going to last. The result of the number 3 Bulldogs hosting number 2 Auburn probably will be part of what determines some things about the long run as well in the SEC and the power shifts in the nation as well.
Both teams are undefeated going into this game. Auburn have played only one game on the road so far this season, and managed to come through with a 20-14 win over Kansas State. There’s nothing new for Mississippi State when it comes to undefeated opponents, as they’ve yet to face a team that has lost, with their opponents having a combined record of 15-0 when they stepped onto the field against the Bulldogs.
Dan Mullen is changing things at Starkville, and the way to building a powerhouse program that doesn’t just depend on one star like Dak Prescott is changing the culture and tradition in annual games. Auburn have won 11 of the last 13 games in this rivalry, but they lost 28-10 two years ago and barely pulled through with a 4-point win last season. Prescott ran for 133 yards and threw for 233 yards against Auburn last season, the only player in the last 40 season with that 100-200 combo.
It’s a clash between two offenses that have been productive in similar ways, mostly through the run. But Auburn are ranked 9th in the nation in points allowed, including holding LSU to just 7 points last week. Mississippi State stunned the other Tigers with a 34-29 victory, and are coming off two wins against top 8 teams following their win against Texas A&M . Beating Auburn won’t just make it a special streak of high ranked teams, but also almost cleaning up house in the SEC West, although there are road games against Alabama and Ole Miss to consider.
The clash of quarterbacks is certainly interesting. Both Nick Marshall and Prescott are the only quarterbacks this season with three games of 100 rushing yards or more. Marshall has rushed for 392 yards with four touchdowns, but Prescott has been the more productive of the two, rushing for 455 yards on 85 carries, also taking it home six times. He’s the much better passes with 1232 yards on a 63.9% completion ratio, throwing just two interceptions while finding a receiver for a touchdown 13 times.
In general Prescott is probably the best quarterback in College Football over the last two seasons, only he didn’t have the media hype like Jameis Winston or Johnny Manziel up until now. He has the best third-down QBR in the nation with 98.4 and his QBR in the wins over LSU and the Aggies is 92.1, better than any other quarterback over that stretch. He has been involved in 20 touchdowns so far this season through five games, one more than Tim Tebow had in 2007, when he finished with an SEC record of being responsible for 55 touchdowns.
Auburn don’t mind keeping it a low score, Mississippi State need this to become something of a fast paced, almost a shoot out style game. They can run the ball, but airing it out and forcing Auburn to do something other than run the ball works in their favor. Maybe the ability to have a less heralded part of the team rise up to the challenge will decide this one, which means either Nick Marshall suddenly becoming an efficient passer, or Mississippi State locking down on defense. It’s not just going to be a battle of quarterbacks running the ball.