June 19, 2024

Joe Moorhead still in search of a signature win

Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead stand among his players during the second half of the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game against Iowa Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Mississippi State has lost its last four games against top-10 opponents on the road.

The program hasn’t accomplished such a feat since 2014, but will get an opportunity Saturday when the Bulldogs travel to Jordan Hare Stadium. However, Mississippi State has lost four of its’ last six trips to Auburn.

Joe Moorhead is having a solid second season in Starkville. His team rebounded nicely from the home loss to Kansas State, with a two-touchdown win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs has some momentum back and could be a potential trap game for Gus Malzahn’s Tigers. After all, Auburn has to travel to the Swamp to face an undefeated, top-10 Florida team in week six and could be looking ahead.

It’s the perfect time for Moorhead’s squad to catch the Tigers with their pants down and pull off a career-changing upset. Still, that’s easier said than done when Auburn is one of the five undefeated SEC teams in the top-10 and won four-straight at home.

Both teams are undefeated in conference play heading into this pivotal divisional game that should start structuring the standings in the West. Moorhead may have the most to gain, while Malzhan has the most to lose. Not to mention Mississippi State has yet to play a true road game this season and it’s tough to beat the Tigers on the Plains.

Auburn’s offense been getting it done with a true freshman at quarterback in Bo Nix. He has yet to face a defense-oriented team and the Bulldogs have some talent to give the young quarterback fits. However, in order for the Bulldogs to have a chance in this game, they’ll have to find ways to move the ball on arguably one of the best defensive lines in the country.

All of Moorhead’s hope hinges on who’ll play quarterback. Penn State transfer Tommy Stevens has thrown six touchdowns and two interceptions, but been battling a shoulder injury for the past three weeks. True freshman Garrett Shrader filled in nicely for Stevens in the win over Kentucky, with 180 yards through the air and 125 on the ground.

Moorhead has one of the best running backs in the SEC in Kylin Hill and he’ll take a lot of the pressure off the quarterback. The junior has four-straight 100-yard games this season and five rushing touchdowns. Everything will be decided in the trenches in order for Mississippi State to move the chains.

It wouldn’t be a bad idea if the Bulldogs can put together long drives, eat up the clock and run a lot of plays to try to wear down the Tigers’ tenacious defense. Mississippi State’s defense has to keep Nix in check and the offense get the running game going with Hill. If the team accomplishes that there’s no reason why the Bulldogs can’t potentially pull off the upset and get Moorhead the first signature win of his career.