After winning four straight in the series, the Bulldogs have dropped the last three to the Tigers. Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville is 5-4 All-time versus MSU and seems to be in pretty good shape for win number six.
Auburn took last week's game as a chance to develop some depth and played nearly all of the scholarship players on the roster. Staked to a huge lead and great play from his defense, Coach Tuberville brought in QB heir apparent Brandon Cox. Cox is a redshirt freshman from Trussville, Al.
Cox completed 50% of his passes (3 of 6). As a senior in high school, Cox completed a phenomenal 70% of his passes. His accuracy hasn't diminished since he reached the Plains. Cox completed 12 of 13 passes in the annual A-Day game, which earned him MVP honors.
The Tigers' starting man under center Jason Campbell, Taylorsville, MS, has played in and won a lot of ball games while at Auburn. He hasn't put up big numbers throughout his career, but he hasn't had to.
Against Mississippi State, Campbell has played in two ballgames. His numbers in those games have been polar opposites. In 2001, Campbell was 7-13 for only 79 yards, an interception and was sacked three times. In 2002, Campbell backed up Daniel Cobb and did not make an appearance against MSU. In 2003, Campbell managed the game well and was 12 of 18 for 148 yards. One interesting thing of note is that Campbell has never thrown a touchdown pass against the Bulldogs.
You can't talk about Auburn without talking about Carnell Williams and Ronnie Brown. The good news is that this is the last time we'll have to talk about them playing against MSU. This tandem will look for the collegiate career sweep versus the Dogs. While Brown has not managed much against the Dogs-just 53 yards in his career-Williams has carved up the Maroon and White two straight seasons.
Williams has eight touchdowns against MSU including six in last year's school record-breaking performance.
MSU will counter with the current SEC offensive player of the week Jerious Norwood and Fred Reid. The Bulldog twosome established themselves last week as a target for defensive gameplans throughout the conference. The Dogs will need a big effort from the running game this week to offset the ball control offense of the Tigers.
Last week saw Omarr Connor play within himself despite a couple of errant passes. Connor will need to make a few more plays this week if the Bulldogs are to prevail. He did a nice job of spreading the ball around to seven receivers. Those type of tendencies are hard to defense.
Omarr will see a much more aggressive defense in Auburn, but they weren't too tough on the QB last week. ULM completed 17 of 23 passes and Auburn did not record a sack. If Connor can record a similar type completion percentage and manage to avoid the pressure the Bullies could pull off the upset.
I understand there are many people taking a wait and see attitude concerning the Sylvester Croom-led Dogs. I don't blame them. I expect the Bulldogs to play aggressive and disciplined again this week, but they will need to cause some turnovers and play near mistake-free football to pull this one off. I expect this to be a better game than the oddsmakers do, but I still don't think MSU is quite ready to take the next step this early in the season.
Auburn 24 MSU 14
Elsewhere around the league....
In between Hurricanes the Gators hope to kick off their season. The Eagles may be praying for rain now. EMU won their season opener last week over Buffalo, but this week will be a lot more challenging. The Eagles gave up nearly 400 yards to Buffalo, who only averaged 290 yards per game last season.
Florida may still need to knock off some rust, but you have to believe they are pretty anxious to get going after last week's postponement. The pickings should be aplenty for Chris Leak and the Gator offense. The Gators have the Vols next week, so it will be interesting to see if Coach Zook pulls some starters late to save some mileage or if he gets his starters some much needed work.
Florida 38 EMU 10
The Longhorns hooked North Texas last week by the tune of 65-0. Arkansas put up some huge numbers themselves in what was a bit of a surprise for a team needing to develop some chemistry. The Hogs have won three straight over Texas. Last year Cedric Cobbs ran wild and even made some folks Heisman watch list after knocking off Texas.
Arkansas has a lot of work to do to build this team up, but you have to admire them for playing Texas. The Longhorn faithful are growing impatient with Mack Brown, who's shown he can recruit well, but can't win the big one. Losing the Red River classic the last few times in such an ugly fashion has some Texas folks calling for the hook.
This should be a great year for Texas and the battle with OU could prove to be the game of the year in the Big 12. This year the Horns should be able to reverse the trend versus the Hogs and focus on bigger and better things.
Texas 31 Arkansas 14
What's the deal with kickers when they play the Tigers? Some folks are searching in earnest for the Cajun lady who has put a voodoo hex on some of the most dependable kickers in the country. Billy Bennett and Jonathan Nichols fell victim last year in two huge games that propelled the Tigers to the SEC and National Championship.
Last week Oregon State missed three extra points that eventually cost them the game. You have to hand it to the Beavers, they brought the fight to LSU and should have won the game.
LSU sputtered on offense much of the night, but back-up QB JaMarcus Russell provided just enough of a spark to earn the victory and cause a bona fide QB controversy in Baton Rouge. This week Nick Saban stated both Russell and Marcus Randall would play against Arkansas State.
The Tigers need to get it together, but ASU should prove to be a great opponent to work the kinks out against. ASU got shelled by Missouri last week (52-20).
LSU should have little problem against the Indians, but they need to decide on a QB because despite Russell's heroics he still completed less than 40% of his passes last week.
LSU 42 ASU 7
This is the home opener for the Gamecocks and they have normally been very tough in those contests. With the exception of last year's blowout Bulldog win, these games have been painfully close.
You should expect another good one based on South Carolina's improved defense. Georgia gave up a country mile in rushing last week to Georgia Southern so the Cocks should keep it close. I like Georgia in this one, but it will be a game until the final whistle.
Georgia 27 South Carolina 21
Mississippi @ Alabama
In a lot of ways the Rebels need this win. After last week's disappointing but not surprising loss, they cannot afford to get too far behind the eight ball. A loss would make the Rebs 0-2 for the first time in seventeen years. The Rebs are known for late season swoons, so a slow start could spell disaster for the season.
The Rebs new gunslinger Michael Spurlock has drawn the ire of the Reb faithful, but Coach David Cutcliffe is sticking by his starter. Many expected redshirt freshman Robert Lane to challenge for the starting job, but he is stuck at third on the depth chart. It will be interesting to watch this drama unfold especially if Spurlock has another erratic outing.
Alabama has owned the Rebs in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has only lost once to the Rebels when they have hosted on campus. The Tide looked impressive last week on both sides of the ball. The linebacking corps appears to be stout and if their play continues to improve the Rebels may be in for a long night.
Alabama 28 Mississippi 13
Well, that's how I see them. This week's schedule may be short on quantity, but certainly not on quality. There will be four games that should be great ones. It's still very early in the season, but there are some teams who will find out just how good they are this week.
Until next week,
Steve Robertson writes The Robertson Report for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com website. Steve's email address is email@example.com.