No. 8 Auburn, Mississippi St meet in defensive showdown

No. 8 Auburn (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (3-2, 0-2), 7:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Line: Auburn by 3½.

Series record: Auburn leads 63-26-2.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

Auburn and Mississippi State came into the season hoping to be SEC West contenders. Neither can afford another stumble, especially the Bulldogs. Both teams appear to have an elite defense, but have struggled to establish offensive consistency.

KEY MATCHUP

Auburn’s offense vs. Mississippi State’s defensive line. Auburn’s offense is averaging 376 yards per game, which ranks 12th in the 14-team Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State’s defensive line — which is anchored by DT Jeffrey Simmons and DE Montez Sweat — has been one of the most productive in the nation. The Bulldogs are allowing about 287 yards per game, which ranks 2nd in the SEC.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Auburn: RB Kam Martin: JaTarvious Whitlow’s status is uncertain because of a shoulder injury sustained last weekend against Southern Miss. Martin had 24 carries for 90 yards against the Golden Eagles and might have a very important role against the Bulldogs.

Mississippi State: RBs Kylin Hill and Aeris Williams. The Bulldog tandem has been very productive when one of them gets the ball. Hill is averaging 7.7 yards per carry while Williams is averaging 7. Coach Joe Moorhead has said it’s imperative to make sure both players are involved in the offense going forward.

FACTS & FIGURES

Auburn is third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 12.6 points per game. Mississippi State isn’t far behind, giving up just 13.4 points per game. … Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham-to-Ryan Davis combo is the second most productive pass tandem in school history with 106 completions. The top pairing is Pat Sullivan-to-Terry Beasley from 1969 to 1971. … Mississippi State hasn’t lost a fumble this season. The only other FBS teams that haven’t lost a fumble are Stanford, Central Florida and Louisiana-Lafayette. … Mississippi State QB Nick Fitzgerald needs 144 yards rushing to break former Florida star Tim Tebow’s record for most career rushing yards by a quarterback. Tebow had 2,947 yards during his time with the Gators.