As a coach when you sit down and look at your schedule in the middle of summer and see a non-conference road game at Kansas State you know that you better have your team prepared for that one. With Bill Snyder as the head coach the Wildcats have beaten a lot of good teams on their home field in Manhattan and it will take a good effort from Auburn to avoid becoming the next victim.
Fortunately for the Tigers, a good effort every time they play is something that we have come to expect from Coach Gus Malzahn’s teams. With a matchup of two ranked teams and Auburn facing Coach Snyder for the first time, this is a game I am looking forward to watching.
I told somebody earlier this week that Coach Snyder is one of my heroes because he is coaching at 74 and I know how much energy it takes to keep up with those 18-to-20-year-olds. Undoubtedly, he has got a great staff around him and they do as good a job as anybody in the country at coaching all of the intangibles and the fundamentals from a standpoint of assignments, schemes and so forth. They are not complicated in what they do, but fundamentally they are a sound, sound football team, and they get results from it.
Kansas State has three exceptional football players I know about and maybe some more. Defensive end Ryan Mueller makes plays all over the field and can disrupt an offense. He is one of the top players in the Big 12. He had a great junior season and it doesn’t look like he has slacked off a bit. If anything he has gotten better.
On offense I really like the quarterback, Jake Waters, and the wide receiver Tyler Lockett. You wouldn’t say the quarterback is a great athlete with any special skills, but he presents a lot of problems with his ability to both run and throw the football. The most impressive thing about him is his leadership and competitiveness along with how well his team plays when he is at quarterback. Lockett is a dangerous pass receiver. Every time they line up you know he has got a chance to go the distance whether it is on a short pass play or going deep.
For some of the Auburn players this will be their first college road trip, which is always different, but for the majority of the players the Tigers will be counting on to win the game on Thursday night playing in front of a loud, road crowd is something they have done many times. Because of that playing at Kansas State shouldn’t be as big a factor as it would be for a less experienced team.
The big thing for the Tigers is showing up on Thursday night in Manhattan ready to play good football. This is the toughest challenge of the season to date for the Tigers and it should be a real test, but one they should be able to handle.
Here are this week’s SEC picks:
Troy at Georgia--The Trojans are struggling and Georgia will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing road loss in Columbia. The Bulldogs will win this one with ease.
Florida at Alabama--Unless the Gators are much improved over how they played last week vs. Kentucky, they won’t have a chance to pull off the upset in Tuscaloosa. I am sure Alabama has been preparing for this game for several weeks and should win comfortably.
Texas A&M at SMU--Texas A&M is off to a hot start and SMU is not. This is an easy win for the Aggies.
Indiana at Missouri--I like how Missouri has opened the season and the Tigers shouldn’t have any problem knocking off the Hoosiers of the Big 10. I have watched Missouri a lot and I think the Tigers have improved their quarterback play this year with Maty Mauk taking over as the starter.
Northern Illinios at Arkansas--Northern Illinios will give Arkansas a good football game, but the Razorbacks will be stronger and should take care of business at home.
Mississippi State at LSU--This going to be a great game. I would imagine that LSU is favored, but this could be an upset even though I am picking LSU. The Bulldogs have a proven quarterback with Dak Prescott running the show and he will give Mississippi State a chance, but I really like the way LSU is playing on defense. They are young but athletic and they have got a bunch of guys who can really get to the football.
South Carolina at Vanderbilt--South Carolina shouldn’t have any problem winning on the road vs. the Commodores.
Auburn at Kansas State--The Wildcats will be fired up to play on their home field with a chance to knock off a highly ranked SEC team. This is a serious opponent for the Tigers, but I can’t pick against Auburn because the Tigers have so many experienced players and the ability to score points in bunches.
Season record: 29-5.