Editor’s note: This is the ninth installment of our “Scouting the schedule” series, which breaks down every game on Mississippi State’s 2022 football schedule. Part 8 described MSU’s tough trip to Tuscaloosa, while Part 10 will be about the Bulldogs’ home game against Georgia.
A 28-3 score doesn’t mean a football game is over. Just ask the Atlanta Falcons.
Or check in with Auburn, who blew that exact same lead last November at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Mississippi State erased the 25-point deficit and didn’t stop there, scoring 40 unanswered points en route to a 43-34 win that booked the Bulldogs a bowl berth.
It’s hard to imagine Auburn coming to Starkville in 2022 without that game on its mind. The Tigers fell off in their first season under Bryan Harsin, and there nearly wasn’t a second, but Auburn always has enough talent to get by.
Of course, a Bulldogs team fresh off a much-needed bye week after a trip to Tuscaloosa could handle the Tigers — no comeback required.
Mississippi State will take on Auburn on Nov. 5 in Starkville.
Auburn quick facts
2021 record: 6-7 (3-5 SEC)
Coach: Bryan Harsin, second year
ESPN Football Power Index: No. 11
All-time series: 61-30-3, Auburn leads
Last meeting: Nov. 13, 2021
Like many of Mississippi State’s SEC West opponents, Auburn holds a significant lead in the all-time series between the two.
The Tigers have won 14 of their past 20 games against the Bulldogs and ran off nine-game and 11-game winning streaks in the series.
But MSU has at times held its own.
The Bulldogs have won five of their past 10 games with Auburn and won seven straight from 1941 to 1948 (neither team played in 1943 because of World War II).
Nearly every year from 1911 to 1948 and five more times from 1957 to 1970, the two teams played in Birmingham. They played seven games in Jackson between 1963 and 1980.
Auburn tanked down the stretch in 2021, dropping its final five games to finish 6-7 and 3-5 in the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers were 6-3 and ranked in the top 25 when they held a 25-point lead against MSU but couldn’t hold it. Auburn lost to South Carolina, nearly beat Alabama in overtime and fell to Houston in the Birmingham Bowl.
Harsin’s team posted wins over LSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss in SEC play.
Quarterback Bo Nix was benched during a game against Georgia State that required a comeback win, suffered a season-ending injury against MSU and transferred to Oregon after the season. T.J. Finley will be set to compete with Texas A&M transfer Zach Calzada at the position.
Running back Tank Bigsby (1,099 yards, 10 touchdowns) returns for Auburn, as does Neshoba Central product Jarquez Hunter (593 yards, three touchdowns). Top receiver Kobe Hudson (580 yards) transferred to UCF, and Demetris Robertson (489 yards) was a graduate transfer, but Shedrick Jackson (527 yards) and tight end John Samuel Shenker (413 yards) will return.
Cornerback Roger McCreary was Auburn’s lone NFL draft pick, while linebacker Zakoby McClain (95 tackles) turned pro but went undrafted. Edge rusher Derick Hall of Gulfport returns after 12.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
A turbulent first year under Harsin sank Auburn’s recruiting class to No. 21 overall and ninth in the SEC in 247 Sports’ composite rankings.
The Tigers have 11 four-star signees, led by Mobile linebacker Robert Woodyard, Louisiana cornerback Austin Ausberry and a pair from Georgia — cornerback JaDarian Rhym and quarterback Holden Geriner. The nation’s top JUCO prospect, defensive lineman Jeffrey M’ba of Independence Community College (Kansas), is also headed to The Plains; No. 6 JUCO recruit Marquise Gilbert of Hutchinson CC (Kansas) will join him.
In the transfer portal, Auburn landed North Carolina linebacker Eugene Asante, LSU wideout Koy Moore and Oregon defensive lineman Jayson Jones in addition to Calzada.
Theo DeRosa reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @Theo_DeRosa.
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