Auburn coach Gene Chizik needs more from his defense if the Tigers are going to rebound from a season-opening loss to Clemson. (US Presswire)

Auburn (0-1, 0-0 SEC) at Mississippi State (1-0, 0-0 SEC)

Kickoff: Saturday, Noon ET (ESPN)

Spread: Mississippi State by 3

Watchability: This game might not have championship implications, but it should be a very closely contested SEC West showdown. Three of the last four games between these two were decided by seven points or less. Expect nothing different on Saturday.

Shining stars: Auburn: DE Corey Lemonier will be after Mississippi State QB Tyler Russell all day. Lemonier showed why he garnered numerous preseason honors in the Tigers’ season opener against Clemson, collecting two sacks and disrupting Clemson QB Tajh Boyd regularly. Mississippi State: CB Johnthan Banks only registered one tackle in the Bulldogs’ season opener against Jackson State. That’s because nobody will throw near him anymore. He has developed a reputation as one of the top cover corners in the league, and he will likely shadow Auburn WR Emory Blake on Saturday.

Who could steal the show: Auburn: QB Kiehl Frazier had a shaky starting debut against Clemson on Saturday, completing just 11 of 27 passes (40.7 percent) for 194 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He’s still a threat. With a start under his belt, he should be settled down and ready to make some plays for the Tigers. Mississippi State: RB LaDarius Perkins was part of a Mississippi State offense that had nearly 200 yards on the ground in the season opener. Auburn proved to be soft against the run against Clemson, allowing 320 yards on Saturday. The Bulldogs will use multiple backs, but look for Perkins, who scored two touchdowns in his opener, to cause the Tigers problems.

You going? Ranking the road trip: If you like cowbells, Starkville is the place to go. Your ears will be ringing after an afternoon of 55,000-plus ringing their bells furiously. Davis Wade Stadium isn’t the most imposing place in the SEC, but it’s still a great place to watch some SEC football.

Magic number for Auburn: 2. Auburn has won its last two trips to Starkville, but only by an average of two points.

Magic number for Mississippi State: 104. That’s Auburn’s national rank in rushing defense after one week. The Bulldogs must expose that weakness.

The game comes down to: Auburn must defend the run better, and Frazier needs to improve his play. These two teams are evenly matched, so one long run or one turnover could be the difference. The Bulldogs have talented backs, but Auburn will be relieved that they’re not quite as explosive as what it had to defend against Clemson.

Prediction: Auburn 24, Mississippi State 21

For more up-to-the minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.