Auburn defense prepares for Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott _lowres

Associated Press photo by JIM LYTLE -- Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott throws a pass during the second half of the Bulldogs' game against Texas A&M in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014. MSU won 48-31.

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn’s defense has improved dramatically since the last time the Tigers faced Dak Prescott.

Then again, so has Prescott. That was long before the 6-foot-2, 230-pound star for No. 3 Mississippi State emerged as the Southeastern Conference’s hottest quarterback and the biggest challenge the second-ranked Tigers have faced this season.

“This will be the first quarterback in a while with that size and caliber,” Auburn cornerback Johnathon Mincy said.

Known more for offense, the Tigers (5-0, 2-0 SEC) have had one of the league’s best defenses so far this season but have only faced two quarterbacks ranked in the Top 100 nationally in total offense.

A much truer test of Auburn’s defense comes Saturday versus Prescott, who’s ninth in that category and has produced three straight games with 200 passing yards and 100 rushing yards.

The first time Prescott managed that feat was last season against Auburn, in the second start of his college career and first against an FBS team.

The Tigers won on a touchdown pass from Nick Marshall to C.J. Uzomah in the final seconds.

Both Prescott and Auburn’s defense have gotten better since then, and they’ll leave Saturday’s game with a clearer idea of just how far they’ve come.

An Auburn front line that is big and deep has to try to keep Prescott from bulldozing through, and he’ll challenge a youthful secondary, too.


FRESHMAN CHARGED WITH RAPE, SUSPENDED: Kentucky freshman defensive end Lloyd Tubman was arrested and charged with first-degree rape Tuesday, and the school said he has been suspended indefinitely.

Coach Mark Stoops announced the suspension and said in a statement he was “very concerned” about the allegations and everyone involved.

The Lexington-Fayette County jail’s website said Tubman was being held on a first-degree rape charge.

The university said in a release that the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Tubman was arrested by campus police following an incident last week at a residence hall on campus. The release also stated the 19-year-old, who played at Louisville Seneca High School, is also subject to discipline under the university’s code of conduct.

The school said legal and student privacy regulations bar them from commenting on Tubman’s participation in the student conduct process.


TEAM TRIES TO REFOCUS: Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason is hitting the reset button for his Commodores halfway through the season.

The Commodores are 1-5 and have lost three straight. Quarterback Patton Robinette still is recovering from a concussion suffered Sept. 20, keeping the Commodores on a signal-caller carousel that resulted in the wrong play being called in the 44-17 loss at Georgia. Nobody corrected ex-LSU quarterback Stephen Rivers before the snap, and his pass was picked off and returned for a touchdown.

Vanderbilt hosts Charleston Southern (5-0) of the Football Championship Subdivision on Saturday night for homecoming.

Mason said Tuesday they will treat the final six games as a new season trying to win one game.