Mississippi State Baseball hosts Auburn for Super Bulldog Weekend

Mississippi State baseball is back in action with the Auburn Tigers visiting Starkville.
Auburn Tigers infielder Cooper McMurray (26) celebrates his home run at Plainsman Park in Auburn,
Auburn Tigers infielder Cooper McMurray (26) celebrates his home run at Plainsman Park in Auburn, / Jake Crandall / USA TODAY NETWORK

Mississippi State baseball begins the back half of SEC play this weekend at Dudy Noble Field against the Auburn Tigers. It's Super Bulldog Weekend in Starkville, and the Diamond Dawgs (23-14, 7-8 SEC) are hoping to get back on track after taking a disappointing series loss to rival Ole Miss.

They should have a good chance at bouncing back against Auburn. The Tigers are 19-17 on the season and just 2-13 in SEC play. They simply haven't been a good team. To be fair to them, they've played an absolute murderer's row of a schedule so far with Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

You'd be hard pressed to find a team succeed against that. Still, 2-13 is 2-13.

The Auburn lineup has some pop

As a team, Auburn's batting numbers are pretty average. They're batting .279 overall and are ninth in the SEC in total runs scored. But they do have some dangerous hitters in that lineup.

First-baseman Cooper McMurray has had an outstanding year. He's batting .362 with 12 home runs and 48 RBI. Catcher Ike Irisih, who should be good to go despite a recent hand injury, is batting .344 with 11 home runs and 47 RBI.

The Tigers aren't great about producing consistent offense, but they've got enough pop to occasionally put several runs on the board.

Auburn's pitching has been a major struggle

While AU has some redeeming qualities to its lineup, the same cannot be said about its rotation. The Tigers are arguably the worst pitching team in the SEC. Their team ERA is 6.12, and their opponent batting average allowed is .282. That's rough, and their SEC-only stats are worse.

Given their struggles, they've changed up their rotation throughout the year. Dylan Watts and Tanner Bauman will be making just their third and second starts respectively on the year this weekend in Starkville. Watts has struggled in his first two starts, but Bauman was solid in his starting debut last week.

Carson Myers (2-3, 4.13 ERA) is the lone guy who's been a regular starter, and he's at least been serviceable at times. But overall, this pitching staff has been an Achilles heel for the Tigers. Their top relievers have had rough outings recently to make matters worse.

Mississippi State baseball can't afford a series loss to Auburn

There's no getting around it. Mississippi State baseball has to win the series against Auburn. It's a bad team coming to Starkville, and State is in a spot where they have to start finding wins. Really, you can argue they need to get a sweep.

The Bulldogs cannot afford to start piling up losses at this point. Ironically, the Tigers are more than 20 spots higher in the RPI than State despite the record. But just from a momentum and morale standpoint, taking a series loss here would be a killer.

This is a team you should take the series from if you're Mississippi State. And if they're serious about returning to the postseason, they will.