When: Saturday, noon ET
Where: Davis Wade Stadium (55,082) | Starkville, Miss.
TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Jenn Brown)
Radio: Auburn IMG Sports Network (WVRK-FM 102.9 in Columbus)
Line: Mississippi State by -3
What to know about the Bulldogs: They very much have had their shots against Auburn the past two years (the eventual 2010 national champs won 17-14 in Starkville, and the Tigers won last year’s shootout by a touchdown) … they have not gotten their SEC slates started the right way, losing every conference opener since 1999. Auburn will be just the Bulldogs’ fourth unranked foe in the last 13 openers … MSU’s defense could be considered bend-but-don’t-break (kind of like Auburn), in that it ranked nationally in the top 16 in scoring defense last year (19.7 ppg) but outside the top 50 in turnovers forced and first downs allowed.
Previous meeting: Auburn 41, No. 16 Mississippi State 34 … Sept. 10, 2011 in Auburn: Tigers safety Ryan Smith stopped QB Chris Relf at the goal line, stuffing MSU’s bid to extend the highest-scoring SEC game of Auburn’s 2011 campaign. Michael Dyer ran for 150 yards and Emory Blake caught seven balls for 108 yards, each finding the end zone along with tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and safety Demetruce McNeal on a pick-six.
All-time series: Auburn leads 60-23-2, including a 12-4-1 advantage in Starkville. Auburn has won four straight and nine of ten in the series going back to 2001. This is the ninth consecutive year Auburn has opened SEC action against Mississippi State.
Which Tiger is licking his chops: Senior receiver Emory Blake, whose career-high 109 yards against Clemson Saturday was his fifth effort over the century mark.
Who’s keeping the Auburn coaches up at night: Senior cornerback Johnthan Banks, who Blake has called “the best defender in pass coverage in the SEC. He’s just so long. He’s taller than I am, and he’s just a fast, tall corner. That’s not what you want to go up against.” What a matchup to watch Saturday.
Extra point: MSU was the subject of a recruiting scandal late in the preseason, when wide receivers coach Angelo Mirando abruptly resigned two weeks before the Jackson State opener and the university distanced itself from a booster who broke NCAA compliance rules regarding contact with recruits.