Auburn vs Mississippi State Odds, Prediction: Fade the Tigers on Saturday
Michael Chang/Getty Images. Pictured: Robby Ashford of the Auburn Tigers.
- In their first game since firing head coach Bryan Harsin, the Auburn Tigers hit the road to Starkville on Saturday to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs.
- As the home team, Mike Leach's Bulldogs enter as 12.5-point favorites over the Harsin-less Tigers.
- Check out Alex Hinton's full betting guide and pick for Auburn vs Mississippi State below.
Auburn vs Mississippi State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Mississippi State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Bryan Harsin always seemed like an odd fit at Auburn, coming over from Boise State. Other than the timing, it was no surprise that Auburn's administration decided to move on.
A 41-27 loss to Arkansas dropped the team to 3-5. Harsin finished 9-12 in less than two seasons as Auburn's head coach.
Running backs coach and former All-American Carnell "Cadillac" Williams will take over as interim coach. He will look to get his first win at Mississippi State this week.
The Bulldogs are coming off a bye week, which was much needed after a pair of difficult road losses. Mississippi State lost 27-17 at Kentucky and then 30-6 at Alabama. It is 5-3 overall and 2-3 in SEC play.
Auburn has controlled this series all-time, seeing as it leads 62-30-3. However, the teams have split the last 10 meetings. Last year's matchup was rather memorable for Mississippi State fans. Mississippi State scored 40 unanswered points to erase a 28-3 deficit and pull off a 43-34 victory.
This year, Auburn is nearly a two touchdown underdog. Will be the Tigers be competitive under interim Coach Williams?
Auburn has one of the better running backs in the SEC in Tank Bigsby. The junior has over 2,500 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns in his career. This season, he has 587 rushing yards and seven touchdowns over 5.3 yards per play. Despite having Bigsby, Auburn still ranks 92nd in rushing success rate and outside of him, there is not much that Auburn does well.
Auburn often loses at the line of scrimmage, which is uncharacteristic of many Tiger teams in recent years. It ranks 107th in line yards and 116th in havoc allowed. Auburn has allowed 21 sacks this year and the poor pass protection is a contributing factor to Auburn ranking 102nd in passing success rate.
Freshman quarterback Robby Ashford has taken the reins of the starting job. He has been uneven at times, but also shown flashes of brilliance. He threw for 338 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception against LSU. Ashford is coming off a big performance against Arkansas in which he threw for 285 yards, one touchdown, and added 87 yards on the ground.
For the season, he has thrown 1,299 yards, five touchdowns, five interception and completed 52.6% of his passes. Ashford may not be quite an accurate passer yet, but he can create some big plays in the passing game. He averages 14.2 yards per completion. His top target is wide receiver Ja'Varrius Johnson who has 22 receptions for 399 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively is where Auburn has really taken a step back. Auburn had ranked in the top 40 in scoring defense in each of the past five years. This year, it is 96th in scoring defense at 29.9 points per game. Auburn's run defense has been the culprit as it ranks 127th in rushing yards allowed per game (213.4) and 122nd in yards allowed per carry.
The Tigers have allowed at least 285 rushing yards and 40 points in each of the last three games. Auburn ranks 125th in line yards and 120th in havoc. Both are contributing factors in ranking 129th in finishing drives as well.
Mississippi is just 1-3 on the road this season, but it is undefeated and 4-0 at home. Its home-road splits begin with its talented quarterback. Junior Will Rogers is having another big season with 2,555 yards, 23 touchdowns, and four interceptions while completing 67.9% of his passes.
At home, he is completing 72.5% of his passes with 17 touchdown passes, one interception and a 113.6 passer efficiency. However, on the road, his completion percentage drops over 9% and his passer efficiency drops by 56 points. Good thing for Mississippi State that it is at home this week.
Mississippi State runs the ball just 32.6% of the time, but it does have two solid running backs. Dillon Johnson leads the team with 407 yards and three touchdowns on six yards per carry. He missed the game against Alabama, but is probable to return this week. Jo'quavious Marks leads the team with six rushing touchdowns to go along 312 yards on 4.5 yards per carry. Johnson and Marks each have over 30 receptions as well.
Rogers spreads the ball around well as five of his receivers have 30 receptions. Rara Thomas leads the team with 456 receiving yards on 15.2 yards per catch and three touchdowns. Caleb Ducking leads the team with seven touchdowns among his 35 receptions and 365 yards.
Mississippi State has been above average defensively in most areas. It survived the wrath of post-loss Alabama by giving just 30 yards, 290 total yards and 29 yards rushing on 27 attempts. Mississippi State is 93rd in rushing success rate allowed and 99th line yards for the season. Where it really excels is defending the pass.
The Bulldogs are 31st in passing success rate allowed. The Bulldogs have a star on the back end in cornerback Emmanuel Forbes who has five interceptions and 11 passes defended. Forbes was named midseason All-American by the Associated Press, CBS Sports and the Athletic. He is also one of the 12 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Mississippi State could do Forbes and the rest of its secondary a favor by getting after the quarterback better. It ranks just 123rd in Pass Rush Grade.
Auburn vs Mississippi State Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Auburn and Mississippi State match up statistically:
Auburn Offense vs. Mississippi State Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Mississippi State Offense vs. Auburn Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||65||28|
|Seconds per Play||26.3 (64)||26.0 (55)|
|Rush Rate||56.8% (45)||32.6% (130)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Auburn vs Mississippi State Pick
I expect Auburn to play hard under interim head coach Cadillac Williams. However, the problem for the Tigers is it will be playing a Mississippi State team also hungry for a win. The Bulldogs need another win to reach bowl eligibility and have yet to play No. 3 Georgia or rival No. 11 Ole Miss.
Mississippi State is going to control the line of scrimmage, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. That will give Will Rogers time to operate, where he is far more comfortable at home. His team is also as well. Mississippi State has won its four home games by 24.5 points per game. Auburn has lost each of its last three games by at least 14.
With that in mind, I have to side with the home team in this spot. I would play the spread up to 14 points.