First glance, Auburn vs. Mississippi State: Preview, TV schedule, odds, key players and more

Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Tigers open SEC play against Dan Mullen's Bulldogs.

Mississippi State Bulldogs

at Auburn Tigers

Saturday, 6 p.m. CT, Jordan-Hare Stadium, ESPN2

Play-by-play: Mark Jones  Analysis: Brock Huard | Sideline: Maria Taylor

Current line: Auburn -6 | Over-under: 51

Tickets: From AuburnTicketsNow

Series history: Auburn 60-24-2 | At Auburn: Auburn 27-6 | Last 10: Auburn 8-2

Last meeting: Mississippi State 28, Auburn 10, Sept. 28, 2012, Davis-Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.

Auburn notesMississippi State notes

Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1, 0-0 SEC)

Head coach: Dan Mullen

Offensive coordinator: Les Koenning (spread option)

Defensive coordinator: Geoff Collins (4-3)

SB Nation affiliate: For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

Other coverage: Jackson Clarion-LedgerThe Reflector

Last season, Dan Mullen finally got his first victory against an SEC West team not named Ole Miss when State hammered Auburn, 28-10. This week, he said it was one of top wins of his career, which says a lot since that was the worst Auburn team in six decades. This year, State has a banged up QB and a 1-1 record that doesn't tell us much about the team. The Cowbells were resoundingly defeated by a good Oklahoma State team in Week 1, and they came back and demolished the SWAC's Alcorn State in Week 2.

With two offensive-minded coaches, some may expect this to be a high-scoring shootout. But, both defenses appear to be further along than their offensive counterparts, and finding the end zone could be more difficult than anticipated.

KEY BULLDOGS ON OFFENSE

Tyler Russell, QB -- Russell suffered a pretty nasty concussion in Week 1 against OK State and he missed the Bulldogs' game against Alcorn State. He should play Saturday, but could be on a short leash with the more mobile Dak Prescott waiting in the wings.

LaDarius Perkins, RB -- Perkins is probably State's biggest offensive weapon. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, but like Russell, he missed State's Week 2 game with an ankle injury. He'll be back against Auburn, and with a shaky passing game, a lot of MSU's offensive success will depend on Perkins and the ground attack.

Jameon Lewis, WR -- Clanga lost its top four producers from a year ago, so the team is still in search of a go-to receiver. So far, it appears to be Lewis, who leads the Bullies with seven receptions, 90 yards and one touchdown.

KEY BULLDOGS ON DEFENSE

Preston Smith, DE -- Mississippi State's defensive line has talent, but it hasn't put up great numbers against the pass so far this year. The Bulldogs have one sack, but they're better against the run with 16 tackles for loss. Smith will play a key role at end, as he'll need to get to the quarterback and try to stop the option and outside runs.

Denico Autry, DE -- And Autry has the same responsibility on the other end. Basically, State will need its DEs to do serious work to keep Auburn's running game from busting big plays on the edge.

Benardrick McKinney, MLB -- McKinney will run the defense and play a major role in trying to stop anything up the middle. All in all, the performance of State's front seven could be the key to the game.

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