Mississippi State has lost 10 of its last 11 against Auburn, hasn't beaten the Tigers in its own stadium since 2000 and has not beaten an SEC West team other than Ole Miss in head coach Dan Mullen's three seasons. But the Bulldogs are a 3-point favorite going into Saturday's game at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville.
Auburn coach Gene Chizik has a pregame visit with Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen
Mullen has made no secret of the importance of this game for his team. And coming off last Saturday's 26-19 loss to Clemson, it is clearly important for Auburn and head coach Gene Chizik.
Kickoff time on ESPN is set for 11 a.m.
Like Auburn, your fearless forecasters didn't get off to a good start last weekend. Senior Writer Bryan Matthews was at least decent, going 18-4. Senior Editor Phillip Marshall went 15-7. Most notably he picked Navy to beat Notre Dame (Notre Dame won 50-10) and SMU to beat Baylor (Baylor won 59-24).
There's always this week. On with the show.
Auburn (0-1) at Mississippi State (1-0)
Phillip's take: Mullen has gotten lots of love from the national media since he arrived in Starkville, and it's hard to know why. A 3-12 record against the SEC West would mean the heat was on most places. Auburn should have an advantage on both the offensive and defensive lines in this game. If the Tigers don't turn the ball over and don't give up big plays, they'll come home with a much-needed victory. I look for an old-fashioned slugfest, with both teams trying to win the game on the ground.
Auburn 17, Mississippi State 13
Bryan's take: Auburn could certainly start out 0-2 for the first time since 2003. The Tigers didn't play well against Clemson and Mississippi State has prepared for this game throughout the offseason. It's a huge game for the Bulldogs and Dan Mullen, who have yet to beat an SEC West team other than Ole Miss. Auburn must play much better on defense and build the offense behind a successful running game if it's to come out of Starkville with a win. I look for Auburn to do just that and for Cody Parkey to have another big game.
Auburn 23, Mississippi State 20
East Carolina (1-0) at No. 9 South Carolina (1-0)
Bryan's take: After a so-so performance against Vanderbilt, I expect South Carolina to find its legs against an out-manned East Carolina squad that opened with a win over Appalachian State.
South Carolina 38, East Carolina 14
Phillip's take: South Carolina sure didn't look the part of a top 10 team in beating Vanderbilt 17-13. Connor Shaw is iffy for this game. If Shaw doesn't play, it could get shaky for the Gamecocks. But they're playing at home and they have lots more talent.
South Carolina 31, East Carolina 17
No. 23 Florida (1-0) at Texas A&M (1-0)
Phillip's take: With billboards and lots of trash talk, Texas A&M has certainly added some spice to its first SEC game. Florida has no doubt taken notice. But the question is whether Florida is good enough to do anything about it. The Aggies have some holes, or at least seem to. But it's hard to know what to expect in head coach Kevin Sumerlin's first game. Based on Will Muschamp's 13 games at Florida, we pretty much know what to expect - good defense and not much offense. he Gators will need some offense to win this one.
Florida 30, Texas A&M 27
Bryan's take: I expect an electric atmosphere in College Station as the Aggies play their first-ever SEC game. Florida wasn't impressive in a 27-14 win over Bowling Green but going into this game with Jeff Driskel as the No. 1 quarterback should provide stability. I want to pick Texas A&M in this game but have a sneaky suspicion Florida will step it up and pull out a big road win.
Florida 28, Texas A&M 24
Western Kentucky (1-0) at No. 1 Alabama (1-0)
Bryan's take: This game will be over at halftime at Alabama can start resting its starters for next week's showdown at Arkansas.
Alabama 45, Western Kentucky 10
Phillip's take: Nick Saban would like for everyone to pretend that Western Kentucky is coming to town for some reason other than to pick up a big paycheck. Western Kentucky has no chance. Saban knows it. His players know it. Western Kentucky's players know it.
Alabama 59, Western Kentucky 3
Georgia State (0-10 at Tennessee (1-0)
Phillip's take: How bad is Georgia State? It would be more surprising if Georgia State beat Tennessee than it would be if Western Kentucky beat Alabama.
Tennessee 63, Georgia State 7
Bryan's take: Tennessee definitely impressed in its 35-21 win over N.C. State and looks like a contender in the SEC East. Georgia State, in its third season of football, won't provide much of a test.
Tennessee 49, Georgia State 14
Louisiana-Monroe (0-0) at No. 10 Arkansas (1-0)
Bryan's take: Another cupcake for Arkansas with the big test coming next Saturday against Alabama.
Arkansas 55, Louisiana-Monroe 17
Phillip's take: You have to like the way Arkansas tested itself heading into next Saturday's game against Alabama - Jacksonville State last week and Louisiana-Monroe this week. The Razorbacks struggled to stop Jacksonville State, which is not a good sign for the future. ULM plays at Auburn next week. Those two games will finance the program, then they can get on to actually playing games they can win.
Arkansas 52, Louisiana-Monroe 27
Washington (1-0) at No. 3 LSU (1-0)
Phillip's take: Washington coaches brought a live tiger to practice this week in preparation for LSU. Unless the Huskies are allowed to turn that tiger loose on the field, they're not going to have much fun in Baton Rouge.
LSU 38, Washington 10
Bryan's take: Washington is an improved team under coach Steve Sarkisian but not ready to compete with a talented LSU team Saturday night in Tiger Stadium.
LSU 31, Washington 7
UTEP (0-1) at Ole Miss (1-0)
Bryan's take: UTEP kept it respectable last week in a 24-7 loss to Oklahoma and I expect a similar outcome this week.
Ole Miss 27, UTEP 17
Phillip's take: UTEP was in the game with Oklahoma into the fourth quarter last week. Ole Miss struggled to beat Central Arkansas. I'm tempted to pick an upset here, but I'm gun shy after last week.
Ole Miss 34, UTEP 31
No. 6 Georgia (1-0) at Missouri (0-1)
Phillip's take: There's been even more smack talk coming out of Missouri than out of Texas A&M, though Missouri fans haven't erected any signs in Athens. Georgia is weakened by injuries and suspensions. Missouri has a pretty good team. It's a historic game in Columbia. Call me crazy, but ...
Missouri 30, Georgia 28
Bryan's take: This is a very intriguing matchup. Missouri blew out SE Louisiana 62-10 last week while Georgia took care of Buffalo 45-23. I think the Bulldogs defense will be the difference in this one.
Georgia 28, Missouri 20
Vanderbilt (1-0 at Northwestern (1-0)
Bryan's take: This should be a thriller with Vanderbilt coming off a close loss to South Carolina and Northwestern edging Syracuse 42-41. I'm taking the SEC in this one.
Vanderbilt 38, Northwestern 35
Phillip's take: Vanderbilt certainly has looked better losing under James Franklin, but it has still lost. Northwestern has an explosive offense and is playing at home.
Northwestern 35, Vanderbilt 31
Kent State (1-0) at Kentucky (0-1)
Phillip's take: Kentucky has a bad football team. Bad enough to lose at home to Kent State? It will be close.
Kentucky 24, Kent State 21
Bryan's take: Kent State took care of Towson 41-21 last week while Kentucky was beaten soundly at Louisville 32-14. Kentucky will be lucky to win four games this season but this should be one of them.
Kentucky 23, Kent State 22
Phillip's take: Miami 28, Kansas State 24; Purdue 28, Notre Dame 27; Michigan 34, Air Force 14; USC 49, Syracuse 20; Wisconsin 27, Oregon State 14; Nebraska 38, UCLA 28; Oklahoma State 41, Arizona 14; Stanford 21, Duke 20; Virginia 28, Penn State 20; Iowa State 21, Iowa 16; Arkansas State 49, Memphis 17.
Bryan's take: Kansas State 19, Miami 17; Notre Dame 27, Purdue 17; Michigan 31, Air Force 24; USC 35, Syracuse 21; Wisconsin 24, Oregon State 17; Nebraska 45, UCLA 38; Oklahoma State 38, Arizona 21; Stanford 17, Duke 14; Virginia 21, Penn State 17; Iowa 19, Iowa State 17; Arkansas State 44, Memphis 21.