AUBURN, Ala. — The Mississippi State football team will have another chance to become bowl eligible on Saturday when it takes on the No. 17 Auburn Tigers at 11 a.m. CT at Jordan-Hare Stadium on ESPN.
The Bulldogs (5-4, 3-3 SEC) are looking to get back on track after falling 31-28 at Arkansas. Head coach Mike Leach has beaten four ranked teams while at Mississippi State. A win would tie Emory Bellard’s program record of four wins over an Associated Press Top 25 team in road or neutral site games.
In last week’s loss to the Razorbacks, MSU redshirt freshman kicker Nolan McCord’s potential game-tying field goal attempt from 40 yards in the final seconds sailed wide for the team’s third miss field goal of the game.
Sophomore quarterback Will Rogers threw for 417 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in the game. On the year, Rogers has completed 363 of his 483 passes (75.2%) for 3,307 yards, 23 TDs and eight interceptions. Rogers’ 367.4 yards passing per game ranks third in the nation. He is seeking his eighth straight 300-yard passing game.
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Makai Polk leads MSU with 71 catches for 720 yards receiving and six TDs. He made eight catches for 117 yards last week.
The Tigers (6-3, 3-2 SEC) are coming off a 20-3 loss to No. 11 Texas A&M. Neither defense allowed a touchdown in that game. Auburn hasn’t scored a touchdown in six quarters.
Junior quarterback Bo Nix has completed 170 of 282 passes (60.3%) for 1,917 yards, nine TDs and three interceptions. His 213 yards passing per game ranks 61st in the nation. He has also carried the ball 55 times for 171 yards rushing and four TDs.
The Tigers average 183.6 yards rushing per game, which ranks 48th in the nation and seventh in the SEC. Sophomore running back Tank Bigsby has carried the ball 140 times for 735 yards rushing and seven TDs, while freshman running back Jarquez Hunter has compiled 544 yards rushing and three TDs on 73 carries. Mississippi State’s rushing defense ranks 11th in the nation in allowing just 101.9 yards rushing per game.
The Auburn defense ranks 53rd in the nation and ninth in the Southeastern Conference in allowing 361.9 yards per game. The Tigers allow 224.8 yards passing per game, which ranks 57th in the nation and ninth in the SEC.
The defense is led by senior linebacker Zakoby McClain, junior linebacker Owen Pappoe and senior cornerback Roger McCreary. In last season’s matchup between MSU and Auburn, the Tigers managed six sacks.
Saturday’s meeting between the Bulldogs and Tigers will be the 95th on the gridiron. Auburn leads the all-time series 65-27-2.
Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Dan Orlovsky (analyst) and Kris Budden (reporter) will be on the call.