Auburn will be back home to face Mississippi State. Will the Tigers be capable of doing it?
O-A News' sports team answers with predictions by Jordan Hill, Jake Weese, and Justin Lee (deputy editor). After six frustrating quarters, will Auburn's offense find its feet again?
JORDAN HILL - It's been a tough time for the Tigers' offense lately. I think people underestimate the strength of the Mississippi State defense entering Saturday's match. The Tigers' window of opportunity will, in my opinion, be through the air. I predict that the Tigers' rush attack will have another disappointing showing, but Bo Nix reboundes with strong passing to keep Auburn on track offensively.
JAKE WEESE - I know it is an 11 a.m. match and that Auburn lost, but the home crowd will be a huge help as Auburn looks to rebound from six quarters of poor play. My expectations of Mississippi State were low when I started the season, but they have exceeded my expectations as the Bulldogs are just one game away from being bowl-eligible. Auburn's offense should rebound at home and figure things out this week, I believe.
JUSTIN LEE : The offense is now capable of going higher than it was after the first half. Since 2012, Auburn has not gone six quarters without an offense touchdown. However, I do not think Auburn will play as badly or as poorly as last week. Although it was a terrible showing by both coaches and players, I believe they will be able to return to their best this week. It should be a relief to be back at home. How does Auburn's secondary compare to the pass-happy Bulldogs
JORDAN HILL - The Tigers have a tendency to surrender big plays only to bounce back when they are challenged. I believe we will see some of that on Saturday. Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers is going to show us why he's the best passer in the country. However, I think the Auburn secondary will come down with two interceptions that severely limit Rogers effectiveness.
JAKE WEESE: Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers threw at least one touchdown pass in each game this season, with the exception of one. Rogers was intercepted three times during a 49-9 defeat to Alabama, but never reached the end zone. Auburn's defense hasn’t allowed a touchdown pass to Auburn since the Arkansas game. In a match between two sides, Rogers will throw for a lot, but it won't be enough stats and he will have difficulty finding the end zone.
JUSTIN LEE: Auburn’s secondary sees it this way: More pass attempts mean more opportunities for the defensive backs, who can pull down interceptions and make crucial plays. Roger McCreary and Smoke Monday have shown that Auburn has the talent to compete with the Air Raid. This could be the place where Auburn's defense can 'bend but not break'. Will Rogers will be a star on the stat sheet, but it's all about stopping scoring. Can Bo Nix react to last week's weak month of play?
JORDAN HILL - I believe that Nix's step back against Texas A&M was a poor showing in an otherwise stellar season. The Aggies defense was highly anticipated and demonstrated why. It will be no easy task for the Bulldogs to match that. But I believe Nix and his receivers can bounce back and Nix will be able to score two rushing touchdowns for the Tigers.
JAKE WEESE - One play was decisive in the Texas A&M matchup. It proved costly for Bo Nix. The Aggies' offense was not the only one that looked terrible against Nix. Last week's performance was a case of a strong defense taking advantage of an offense that is struggling and sputtering. The offense and Nix will benefit from being back in front the home crowd this week.
JUSTIN LEE - Nix has bounced back before and he will bounce back again. He is used to the roller coaster. He'll be tested by the Mississippi State defense. But, if Auburn loses, it won’t be because Nix has lost his headspace. He will be ready and locked in to play this week. Will the Tigers be capable of running the ball against Mississippi State?
JORDAN HILL - Although I am optimistic about Saturday's Tigers win, it is not the same with the Tigers' run game. Auburn has struggled to establish a consistent ground game for the majority of the fall. The only exception was their 207-yard flurry against Ole Miss' defense. Although Mississippi State's run against Arkansas was uncharacteristically poor, I think that the front seven (including defensive tackle Cameron Young) will be another frustrating outing by Tank Bigsby.
JAKE WEESE - Auburn has only produced one outstanding rushing performance this season against SEC competition, which was against Ole Miss. Mississippi State has been quite solid against the run this year, but Arkansas got them on the ground last week. My thoughts are that Auburn's run game against Mississippi State will be slowed down, but the Bulldogs will find the end zone at the very least once. While I believe Nix and the passing offense will be the mainstays of the game, Auburn scored on a goal line carry.
JUSTIN LEE: Auburn needs to believe that the bag of tricks doesn't run out. Auburn has been able make up for its lackluster run blocking with outside sweeps, quarterback runs and third-and-Worm screens to Shaun Shivers. But, it will need to find new ways to enhance the run game late in the season, as the opposition has seen it all. Auburn's only reliable pass-catcher is John Samuel Shenker, so it can be difficult. Final score
JORDAN HILL: Auburn wins, 31-20. The Bulldogs will make some big plays in the air, but the Tigers' defense stops them from making those Rogers interceptions. After six quarters of no touchdowns, the Auburn offense finally comes alive and scores enough points to win a crucial home victory.
JAKE WEESE: Auburn wins 24-21. This one is close for Mississippi State, but Auburn manages to win 24-21. Nix also reenergizes the offense, tossing for a score or 200+ yards.
JUSTIN LEE: Auburn wins 30-24. This is still a game Auburn should win. Auburn has the talent advantage to Mississippi State and it would be a disaster to lose to Mississippi State at its home. Auburn needs to be able hold serve. It will be a tough decision for the Tigers if it is another performance like last week.