The Auburn football team will stay in the comfortable confines of home this weekend when they host SEC Western Division foe Mississippi State in the Tigers conference home-opener.
"This is a big game for us; our guys understand that and are very excited," said Auburn coach Gus Malzahn. "Our crowd has been great. We’re really looking forward to playing in front of our crowd with everybody bringing their A-game. Like I said, this is a big game."
Saturday's matchup will be the 93rd meeting between the Tigers and the Bulldogs, who won last year's game 23-9 in Starkville.
That bitter taste of that embarrassing loss to the Bulldogs will likely not be forgotten when the Tigers take the field on Saturday.
"The great thing about is that we’ve got most of our guys back, so you really don’t have to say anything," said Malzahn. "They know exactly what happened. We left that thing and they embarrassed us. As a team, now — it was the whole deal — we only rushed for 90 yards. We pride ourselves on that, winning up front. You’ve just got to do it. They’re a good team and I don’t have to say much. Our guys know. It’s a new year, it’s a completely new year. But at the same time, when you have experiences, whether you’re a player or a coach, you remember them. We’ve got to respond."
The Tigers' biggest challenge on Saturday will be finding a way to keep Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill in check. He's torched defenses so far this season, averaging an SEC-best 138 yards a game. He put up similar numbers last year against the Tigers, rushing 23 times for 126 yards.
"He’s explosive; he can run and break tackles," said Malzahn. "I saw that one play where he dove from outside the five-yard line. He’s a veteran guy, he’s been there and done that. He’s one of the best in our league."
The Tigers and Bulldogs will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday. The game will be televised on ESPN.
"Our urgency has to be there and we’ve just got to play good, hard-nosed Auburn football for four quarters," said Malzahn. "We’re playing a team that can easily be 4-0, with a lot of confidence coming in here."