Sep 30, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Mississippi State Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald (7) takes a snap against the Auburn Tigers during the first quarter at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State – Auburn Preview

New matchup, same dog fight.

Saturday’s 7 p.m. matchup between Mississippi State (3-1) and No. 7 Auburn (4-0) will be the 93rd overall meeting between the two teams.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn made sure to point out the battles Auburn has been through with Mississippi State over the years.

“Every time we play Mississippi State — doesn’t matter if it was 2009, 2010, or this year — it’s a physical game,” Malzahn said in a Tuesday press conference.

Malzahn expects this game to be no different.

Duking it Out in the Trenches

While Auburn leads the overall series 60-29-3, the team strayed from history last year at the hands of Mississippi State’s ground game.

“We have our first SEC home game — very excited about that,” Malzahn said. “We’re playing a very good Mississippi State team, a team that really, bottom line, embarrassed us last year.  They rushed for 349 yards and we rushed for 90. That was a tough one.”

Malzahn said Auburn prides itself on physicality in the trenches.

Mississippi State does, too.

Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill leads the SEC in rushing with 551 yards. Hill is also tied for the SEC lead in rushing touchdowns with five, and he holds a clip of 6.06 yards per rush.

The most dangerous part of Hill’s game is his consistency. While Hill averages 6.06 yards per rush, the Mississippi State star’s longest run of the season sits at 22 yards.

Hill was also a dangerous part of Mississippi State’s running game against Auburn last season. He held stock in 126 of Auburn’s 349 yards in last year’s contest.

What’s the Situation?

Auburn’s quarterback situation is set in true freshman Bo Nix.

Mississippi is lacking certainty.

Senior signal caller Tommy Stevens is dealing with a right shoulder injury. He originally suffered the injury in Week 2, which left true freshman quarterback Garrett Shrader with the football in his hands.

Shrader played well against Kentucky last week, going 17-22 for 180 yards passing. He also added 125 yards on the ground on just 11 rushes.

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead spoke about Shrader’s maturity and toughness during a press conference on Monday.

“In my mind, I don’t view him (as a freshman),” he said. “I know he is a freshman, but his approach and his experience belies that fact. I think he plays a little more mature than most true freshmen.”

Moorhead and Mississippi State hope to see Stevens under center on Saturday, but they are confident Shrader can get the job done against a top 10 team in No. 7 Auburn.

Looking Ahead

After its matchup against Auburn, Mississippi State will have a bye week before traveling to play Tennessee on Oct. 12. Auburn will trek to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to play Florida on Oct. 5.

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