Auburn Opponent Preview: Mississippi State

Taking a look at Auburn's next opponent, the Mississippi State Bulldogs, who are ranked No. 3 in this week's AP Top 25 poll as the Tigers prepare for a road trip to Starkville.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn continues the grind that is the 2014 season this weekend when Gus Malzahn’s Tigers travel to Starkville, Miss., to face the red-hot Mississippi State Bulldogs in a monster SEC West showdown. Coming off back-to-back Top 10 wins over LSU and Texas A&M, Dan Mullen’s club is one of the most balanced in all of college football with strength and experience on both offense and defense.

Leading the way is dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott.

Coming off a performance against the Aggies when he accounted for 356 yards of total offense and five touchdowns, Prescott leads all SEC quarterbacks with 20 career rushing touchdowns and 1,325 rushing yards. The junior has thrown for more than 200 yards and rushed for more than 100 in three consecutive games. Completing 63.9 percent of his passes for 1,232 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions, Prescott has also added 455 yards on the ground and six scores while leading Mississippi State with 85 rushing attempts in five games.

The leading rusher for the Bulldogs is stocky junior Josh Robinson. With 592 yards and six touchdowns on 79 carries (7.5 yards per carry), Robinson is part of a rushing attack that is averaging 272.6 yards per game this season with 13 touchdowns. Brandon Holloway (25-151) is the only other Mississippi State player with more than 75 yards rushing this season.

On the outside top receiver Jameon Lewis is expected back this week after missing last week’s game. A dynamic playmaker, Lewis has 15 catches for 223 yards and a touchdown this season. Former Alabama Mr. Basketball De’Runnya Wilson is the big-play guy for the Bulldogs with 14 catches for 247 yards and a team-high five touchdowns. A threat in the red zone because of his size, Wilson is tough to defend because of his ability to shield defenders with his body.

Up front, center Dillon Day is back after being suspended by the SEC for two different incidents for stomping on a player against LSU. Fellow seniors Blaine Causell and Ben Beckwith on the left side combine to form one of the most experienced trios in the conference.

With one of the best combinations of defensive line and linebacker play in the country, Mississippi State’s defense is a physical group that enters the game allowing just 98.2 yards on the ground with just two total touchdowns. If there is a chink in the armor for the Bulldogs it’s the pass defense. Even though Mississippi State has 18 sacks in the first five games, the Bulldogs are allowing yards in chunks through the air. Giving up an average of 328.2 yards passing, they have allowed nine touchdown passes, but also have nine interceptions.

The strength of the defense is up front where the Bulldogs are similar to Auburn in that they will rotate as many as 10 players for the four positions during a game. Off to a dominating start is senior Preston Smith. A three-time SEC Defensive Player of the Week already this season, Smith leads Mississippi State with three and a half sacks and also has five quarterback pressures, two interceptions and two blocked kicks.

Preston Smith has been impressive this season

The leader of the defense is big middle linebacker Benardrick McKinney. Tops on the team with 36 tackles, he has added three sacks and six tackles for a loss this season as well. Fellow starting linebacker and Florence, Ala., native Beniquez Brown is second on the team with 25 tackles. Top reserve Richie Brown has 14 tackles, but leads the team with three interceptions, all coming last week vs. Texas A&M when he was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Hybrid Matthew Wells rounds out the starting linebackers and is an active player on the perimeter.

In the secondary Will Redmond is third on the team with 24 tackles and along with Jamerson Love and Taveze Calhoun gives the Mississippi State defense an athletic trio of coverage guys on the perimeter of the defense. Love and Calhoun have combined to start 34 games in their careers and have 194 total tackles.




WR 1 De’Runnya Wilson 6-5 225 So.-1L
5 Fred Brown 6-1 190 So.-1L
WR 4 Jameon Lewis 5-9 187 Sr.-3L
35 Gabe Myles 6-0 192 Fr.-RS
WR 12 Robert Johnson 6-1 210 Sr.-3L
16 Joe Morrow 6-4 210 Jr.-1L
8 Fred Ross 6-2 205 So.-1L
LT 75 Blaine Clausell 6-7 315 Sr.-3L
71 Cole Carter 6-6 295 So.-SQ
LG 66 Ben Beckwith 6-3 305 Sr.-3L
60 Jamaal Clayborn 6-4 320 So.-1L
C 63 Dillon Day 6-4 299 Sr.-3L
59 Archie Muniz 6-5 295 Sr.-3L
RG 70 Justin Malone 6-7 320 Jr.-1L
62 Devon Desper 6-3 300 So.-1L
RT 58 Justin Senior 6-5 295 So.-1L
77 Rufus Warren 6-7 295 Jr.-1L
TE 6 Malcolm Johnson 6-2 231 Sr.-3L
18 Brandon Hill 6-2 245 Sr.-3L
19 Gus Walley 6-4 235 So.-SQ
RB 13 Josh Robinson 5-9 215 Jr.-2L
7 Nick Griffin 6-0 226 Sr.-3L
32 Ashton Shumpert 6-2 218 So.-1L
QB 15 Dak Prescott 6-2 230 Jr.-2L
11 Damian Williams 6-1 225 So.-1L


DE 48 Ryan Brown 6-6 262 Jr.-2L
94 Nelson Adams 6-3 300 So.-1L
DT 93 P.J. Jones 6-3 296 Sr.-3L
96 Chris Jones 6-5 308 So.-1L
DT 92 Kaleb Eulls 6-4 295 Sr.-3L
98 Curtis Virges 6-3 312 Sr.-3L
-or- 88 Nick James 6-5 325 So.-1L
DE 91 Preston Smith 6-6 270 Sr.-3L
47 A.J. Jefferson 6-3 270 So.-1L
LB 22 Matt Wells 6-2 220 Sr.-3L
14 Zach Jackson 6-2 210 Jr.-2L
LB 50 Benardrick McKinney 6-5 249 Jr.-2L
39 Richie Brown 6-2 235 So.-1L
LB 42 Beniquez Brown 6-1 235 So.-1L
44 Christian Holmes 6-1 230 Sr.-3L
CB 5 Jamerson Love 5-10 175 Sr.-3L
2 Will Redmond 6-0 185 Jr.-1L
SS 3 Jay Hughes 5-11 195 Sr.-2L
26 Kendrick Market 5-10 188 Jr.-2L
FS 9 Justin Cox 6-3 192 Sr.-1L
17 Deontay Evans 5-10 205 So.-1L
-or- 11 Kivon Coman 6-3 195 So.-1L
CB 23 Taveze Calhoun 6-1 184 Jr.-2L
31 Tolando Cleveland 6-0 180 So.-1L


PK 41 Evan Sobiesk 5-8 188 So.-1L
35 Westin Graves 6-0 163 Fr.-HS
KO 40 Devon Bell 6-2 185 Jr.-2L
P 40 Devon Bell 6-2 185 Jr.-2L
43 Logan Cooke 6-5 210 Fr.-HS
SN 38 Winston Chapman 6-2 225 Jr.-2L
53 Hunter Bradley 6-3 235 So.-SQ
HLD 15 Dak Prescott 6-2 235 Jr.-2L
40 Devon Bell 6-2 185 Jr.-2L
KR 4 Jameon Lewis 5-9 183 Sr.-3L
12 Robert Johnson 6-1 211 Sr.-3L
2 Will Redmond 6-0 185 Jr.-1L
PR 81 Jamoral Graham 5-10 170 Fr.-HS
4 Jameon Lewis 5-9 183 Sr.-3L

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