Mississippi State vs. Auburn time, TV channel: Can the Bulldogs bounce back?

Published 4:19 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

Mississippi State looked incredible in destroying LSU. But that was Ed Orgeron and company.

The highly-anticipated Georgia game didn’t turn out so well last week. So now inquiring minds in Starkville and beyond want to know: How good are these Mississippi State Bulldogs?

For the third consecutive week, a Top 15 opponent on ESPN primetime awaits Mississippi State football as the 24th-ranked Bulldogs face No. 13 Auburn at 5 p.m. CT Saturday in Jordan-Hare Stadium.

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State (3-1, 1-1 SEC) is the only team in America who currently has three straight Top 15 opponents on the schedule with back-to-back on the road at night. Auburn (3-1, 1-0) is also the second consecutive opponent for MSU that will open its SEC home slate against the Bulldogs.

Two teams that are off to terrific defensive starts will meet as MSU allows 225 yards per game, while Auburn is tops in the SEC, issuing only 236.3 yards per contest. It’s the first time since 2014 that both squads are ranked at the time of the matchup.

TV channel/Live streaming info
The game will be televised live in primetime on ESPN with Dave Flemming (play-by-play), Brian Griese (analyst) and Todd McShay (sideline) calling the action. Live streaming video is available via the Watch ESPN app and WatchESPN.com.

Here are some things to look for in Saturday’s game, according to The Associated Press:

TAILBACK TANDEM: For the first time this season, Auburn will likely have both tailbacks Kamryn Pettway and Kerryon Johnson available for the same game. Pettway has missed one game with an injury and another with a suspension while Johnson was out the other two games with a right hamstring injury. It could be a huge boost for a running game that hasn’t been as consistently formidable as in recent seasons. Johnson did run for five touchdowns against Missouri despite gaining just 48 yards.

In last year’s meeting, Pettway ran for 169 yards and three touchdowns in a 38-14 Auburn win.

MURDERER’S ROW: This is Mississippi State’s third consecutive game against a Top 15 team and second straight on the road. The results have been mixed, to say the least: a 37-7 win over LSU and a 31-3 loss to Georgia.

TOP DEFENSES: Both offenses face strong challenges from Top 10 defenses. The Tigers rank fourth nationally in total defense and seventh in scoring defense. The Bulldogs aren’t terribly far behind with a 10th-ranked defense that’s also fifth against the pass and 16th in points allowed per game.

DEFENDING FITZGERALD: Auburn will have to defend both the running and passing of Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who ranks fourth in the SEC in total offense. Fitzgerald was held to just 83 passing yards with two interceptions against Georgia and it was also his first game this season without a rushing touchdown. He has accounted for seven TDs passing and five running.

“He is a true dual-threat guy,” Malzahn said. “He’s like a running back in the backfield, which presents a lot of problems with the plus-one run game for defenses. He’s got where he throws the ball extremely accurate when he has time. That’s going to be a big challenge for our defense.”

HOMEFIELD ADVANTAGE: The Tigers have won 28 of the 35 meetings with Mississippi State in Auburn. But Mississippi State won 17-9 in its last visit two years ago.