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(THROWBACK) Game Preview - Week 2 @ Mississippi State

Auburn enters SEC play on the road.

AP

Our throwback 2010 series continues with Mississippi State week. After a solid victory that wasn’t quite a cover, Auburn travels to Starkville to take on Mississippi State.

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How do you feel after Week 1? That 52-26 victory over Arkansas State was fun to watch, even if we can’t really tell much about Auburn’s true strength due to the opponent.

Our main story after one game is pretty obvious — Cam Newton at quarterback.

Uh, is it not illegal for a guy that’s 6’6, 250 lbs to be that swift and quick? That one play where he dodged several defenders and turned a scramble into one of the most physically impressive plays I’ve ever seen was something that’s been missing from an Auburn quarterback’s repertoire ever.

He showed off the arm, with a couple of long touchdown passes, and he showed off the strength and ability to move the chains with a short touchdown run, but I think the long quarterback draw play where he scored untouched was the most impressive. If you were in the stadium, did you notice that there weren’t really many cheers? I wasn’t alone in my section in standing dumbfounded that a man that size ran away from defensive backs. I forgot to cheer. I was in shock.

Defensively, there were a few things left to be desired. Arkansas State scored on their first drives of each half, and even in the third quarter we weren’t out of the woods yet, up just 35-23. ASU couldn’t run on us, just 43 yards total on 35 carries, but the passing defense took some hits. Now, we get to see what’s going to happen in Ryan Sterritt’s favorite non-Auburn college town.

Couple of things:

  • It’s a Thursday night game. There’s always a very different feel when you have a wonky week. The practice schedule is altered, and you don’t have the same type of prep that you would have during a normal game week. I’d almost imagine that Auburn put in a few things for the Bulldogs last week instead of working on ASU. Plus, the atmosphere in the stadium won’t quite be what it would be for a night kickoff two days from now. There’ll still be cowbells ringing in everyone’s ears for two days, however.
  • Now that Cam Newton’s played a game in a blue jersey, we don’t need to worry about it, but he almost became a Mississippi State Bulldog. Obviously, the Dan Mullen relationship from their time together at Florida was a huge factor, but Cam picked Auburn in the end. After one game, I’m thankful.

Alright, last year in Gene Chizik’s and Mullen’s first seasons, Auburn obliterated MSU at home. Final score of 49-24, and the Tigers rushed for 390 yards, so there’s no reason to believe that the Tigers can’t do more of the same tonight with a bonafide rushing threat at quarterback now instead of Chris Todd. This was the game where we saw the ESPN cameras fooled at times, following the wrong guy with the ball as Gus Malzahn’s offense gave their operators (and the MSU defense) fits.

Onterio McCalebb, Ben Tate, and Mario Fannin each ran for 75+ yards, with the first two going well over 100 yards apiece. Now we’ve got Cam Newton, who strolled for 171 yards on just 15 carries last week. I think the running game should be just fine tonight, and should be able to control things.

What we are going to see from the MSU offense tonight is likely going to be multiple quarterbacks. Mullen rotated both Chris Relf and Tyler Russell last week in the 49-7 victory over Memphis, with Chad Bumphis and Brandon Heavens each going over 100 yards receiving. MSU also brought back a couple of talented running backs in Vick Ballard and Ladarius Perkins. While neither had much success against Auburn last year, we’ll see if they put forth a better effort at home tonight. We mentioned the Auburn defense, if Antoine Carter and Nick Fairley combine for 4 sacks again tonight, then I think they’ll be just fine.

As for me, I’ll be watching the first half at least at Quixote’s. I hear they’ve got a new beverage called Four Loko? Gonna try it and see how that is. If we end up getting to 2-0, watch out for next week and a huge non-conference game against Clemson. That might end up being a candidate for College Gameday. Let’s hope it turns out to be a night game, but first things first. Let’s take care of business tonight and come home to enjoy a weekend when we’ve already played and we can watch everyone else strap it up to risk their perfect seasons. War Eagle!