• The matchup: Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC) at MSU (1-0, 0-0)
• The kickoff: 11:01 a.m., ESPN
• The weather: Mild (high 70s) and maybe a little wet
• The line: MSU –3.0
Has the time come for Dan Mullen to put away talk about his 3-12 record versus the SEC West? Is this the weekend that he and the Bulldogs will look back on in a few weeks and say, that’s where a great season got off the ground?
Everything is set up for MSU to take the “next step,” as offensive coordinator Les Koenning put it earlier this week. MSU will be at home in front of a loud sellout crowd. It’s coming off an easy win over Jackson State. Auburn is coming off a tough, physical loss to Clemson. MSU’s offense appears to have the overall edge on Auburn’s defense, which gave up 528 yards to Clemson.
If you saw my column today, you saw that I wrote about several key matchups. I believe MSU wins most of those. Not to say this won’t be a close game, because chances are it will be. The last two meetings have been decided by 10 points combined, and both came down to the game’s final drive. Not that those past results matter a whole lot, as Auburn is breaking in new coordinators on both offense and defense. That means MSU is having to prepare for some unknowns.
The implications of this game for MSU can’t be overstated. Win, and a 7-0 start is very possible, and beyond that a nine-win, perhaps even 10-win season is within reach. Lose, and MSU could wind up making a trip to Nashville or Shreveport in December. It’s big for Auburn, too, as it tries to avoid an 0-2 start in nine years.
MSU is seeking its first 2-0 start since 2000. I say it happens.
• The prediction: MSU 27, Auburn 23.