Tale of the Tape: Auburn vs Mississippi State

The 3-4 Auburn Tigers are finally favored to win a football game this week when they host the 4-3 Mississippi State Bulldogs at Jordan-Hare Stadium this Saturday.

The Tigers are currently favored by nearly a touchdown to win this game according to BetMGM and ESPN FPI agrees with the oddsmakers, as the model gives Hugh Freeze’s team a 62.7% chance to snap their four-game losing-skid come Saturday.

Will the tale of the tape agree that Auburn will win their first game in over a month, or does a further look into the matchup show us this game will be closer than expected?

As always, we’ll start by looking at the quarterbacks.

Mississippi State faces uncertainty at the quarterback position heading into this one. Starter Will Rogers is dealing with a shoulder injury that forced him to miss last week’s game against Arkansas. 

Head coach Zach Arnett was ambiguous talking about his quarterback’s status, saying “he is progressing well” but refusing to label Rogers in or out for Saturday.

If Rogers is unable to go, the offense will be left in the hands of senior Mike Wright.

In limited work this year, Wright has thrown for 146 yards and 2 touchdowns. He has also added 106 rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

As for the Auburn signal-callers, they are still struggling.

Through 7 games, starter Payton Thorne has thrown for 845 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions.

The Tigers top option is averaging just over 120 passing yards per game to go along with 0.7 touchdowns and interceptions per game.

That is not good.

Once again, Auburn loses the quarterback battle. It is much closer than it has been in previous SEC games however, and it’s almost even if Will Rogers is forced to sit on the bench.

The battle of the skill positions is even closer.

Neither team boasts a top-notch playmaker that give a defensive coordinator a worse headache than a night out at Quixote’s, nor do they do anything on offense particularly well.

Mississippi State’s best player on the scoring side of the ball is probably running back Jo'Quavious Marks.

The senior back has been a workhorse for the Bulldogs offense. The senior from Atlanta is averaging 14 carries for 71 yards a game and has scored five total touchdowns.

Auburn’s best playmaker is also their number one running back, junior Jarquez Hunter.

After a slow start to the season for Hunter, he has come alive of late, and now leads all Auburn rushers with 309 yards and 5 rushing touchdowns. He has also added 61 receiving yards.

Neither receiving core is worth mentioning ahead of the other, although Mississippi State receiver Lideatrick Griffin has the most yards out of any pass catcher in this game with 494.

The skill position battle is a wash.

Auburn does finally get an edge in the defensive department, although it is closer than you might think.

Jaylin Simpson, Eugene Asante, and the Auburn Tigers defense have been great all year long.

Unfortunately for them, Mississippi State has been pretty much just as good, at least according to the numbers.

Auburn’s defense has given up 25.7 points and 397.3 yards per game this season.

Mississippi State has given up 28.8 and 393.8, respectively.

As good as Auburn linebacker Eugene Asante has been, linebacker Nathaniel Watson has been even better.

Overall, these two teams are extremely similar and a 6.5-point spread only makes sense if Will Rogers can’t go. If he does, Auburn may be in some trouble come Saturday.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire