Friday, September 13, 2013

Dr. Z's State Preview-Healing a Wounded Pysche

State comes to town this week for yet another SEC opener for both schools. There have been some memorable games in this series and some very forgettable ones (See 2012, 2008). Last year Auburn turned the ball over 5 times and State pulled away for a 28-10 victory. The game was actually close for 3 quarters, but it was the early sign that something very major was wrong on the Plains.

I don't know what to make of the Bulldogs of the west this year and neither do many other pundits, just based on what we have seen so far.

Against Oklahoma State in week one, the Bulldog defense got gashed on the ground by a team that historically likes to throw quite a bit. MSU also looked pretty putrid on offense against a defense not historically known for its prowess. What does all this mean? Likely absolutely nothing.

State will come in ready to play, knowing full well that the schedule looks very bleak down the road. Getting to a bowl game may be a tall order with a loss in Jordan-Hare. They know that as well as the rest of us.

My concern for this game is really not State. I think Auburn has better players, a better coaching staff and a all the motivation to win Saturday. My concern is Auburn's psyche. Auburn hasn't won a conference game since Ole Miss in 2011. In that span most of the games have been lopsided. The Tigers have shown themselves to have the potential to be a pretty good football team in 2013. How will they handle the SEC spotlight? They key to being 3-0 after Saturday night relies squarely on how quickly Auburn's players realize that they are a good football team. A good football team will beat Mississippi State Saturday.

So Gus must do the exact opposite of what Gene Chizik got to do in his first year in 2009. Auburn rolled State in that game because they knew they were supposed to. They had experienced success under Tuberville, and they knew how to win. Gus has a much tougher job to repair the damage of the Chizik era. Saturday night will be a huge test, not because State is a world beater, but because everyone in orange and blue, and I include fans in that, needs to learn to believe again.

Fortunately, as I mentioned before, Auburn has the talent and the coaching staff to make us all believe again. I expect a good showing from the Tigers at night in Jordan-Hare. When it is all said and done, Auburn will be 3-0, and State fans will be wondering what's so great about Dan Mullin. I say...

Nowhere State 17

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