Game Day Preview: LSU vs. Mississippi State
Tigers looking for rebound on the road against Mississippi State
By Trey MongruePosted Oct 2, 2013
After coming up short in an offensive slugfest at Georgia last Saturday, the best thing for the LSU Tigers would be to return to Tiger Stadium and regroup within the confines of their own home.
Unfortunately, the scheduling gods that reside in Birmingham, Alabama, have the battered Tigers going from one Bulldog to another, as Les Miles and company travel to the land of cow bells for a meeting with head coach Dan Mullen and Mississippi State.
The Bulldogs enjoyed a bye last weekend after trouncing the Troy Trojans, 62-7, the week before. The week before that, Mississippi State squandered a late lead against Auburn in their Southeastern Conference opener.
If there is one team in the SEC that LSU can claim dominance over, it is Mississippi State. The Tigers enter Saturday with a 13-game winning streak over the Bulldogs. Despite that healthy statistic, nothing can be taken for granted at this point – especially after what occurred against Georgia.
LSU OFFENSE vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE DEFENSE
If there was one good take-away from the Tigers loss in Athens, it is that Zach Mettenberger played like he was one of the best college quarterbacks on the planet. Amidst a hostile environment and a lot of personal baggage, the redshirt senior did not wilt under the immense pressure. Instead, he turned in the best performance of his LSU career, with 372 passing yards and three touchdowns – including a clutch go-ahead scoring drive late in the fourth quarter. Mettenberger’s poise on third down continues to amaze. He again converted over 60 percent of his chances, including a notable 24-yard pass to Odell Beckham Jr. on a third down and 22. The relationship between Mettenberger, Beckham, Jarvis Landry and even Kadron Boone is becoming one of the offense’s major assets. As for the run game, Jeremy Hill had a tough time, fighting hard for every one of his 86 yards against Georgia. It should be a tad easier to find holes this week, as he and the rest of the LSU running backs will face a Mississippi State defense that is allowing over 120 rushing yards per game.
LSU DEFENSE vs. MISSISSIPPI STATE OFFENSE
The term “DB-U” has been thrown around when describing the LSU secondary for the first part of the season. While one game doesn’t change that, Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray took the young LSU defensive backs to school last week with 298 passing yards and four touchdowns. The lone interception of Murray was made by defensive tackle Anthony Johnson. The LSU defensive line could not record a sack, or even force a quarterback hurry, and the Georgia backfield averaged 5.4 yards per carry. It was just not the performance that we are used to seeing from a defense wearing purple and gold. As they quickly try to recover and regroup for the other Bulldogs this Saturday, LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis has to go from defending a pro-style offense to Mississippi State’s hurry-up offense. The Bulldogs’ dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott will likely lead their fast-paced charge. Prescott took over the signal-calling duties following a week one concussion that forced senior starting quarterback Tyler Russell to the sidelines, and Prescott has made the most of his opportunity. He has thrown for 709 yards and three passing touchdowns, while also leading the Bulldogs in rushing with 215 yards and five touchdowns. The good news for LSU is that if they contain Prescott, there is nobody else that the Bulldogs can turn to on that side of the ball.
After not getting many chances to test his leg in the first four games, LSU freshman placekicker Colby Delahoussaye finally got to attempt a field goal of more than thirty yards -- in a hostile environment, no less. He passed with flying colors, converting field goal attempts that were 49 and 39 yards long. So far, Delahoussaye has converted on all six of his field goal tries, as well as all 28 extra points. Punter Jamie Keehn had a second straight solid outing, as well, with a 43 yard per punt average against Georgia. However, it was special teams that may have cost LSU the win last week. When Beckham botched a punt return, giving Georgia good field position for a game-tying touchdown, it killed any momentum the Tigers had. However, he is still electrifying with the ball in his hands, and Mississippi State is allowing over 18 yards per punt return while their return game is almost non-existent.
Whether it has been Jackie Sherrill, Sylvester Croom or Mullen roaming the sidelines for the Bulldogs, none have been able to get over the hump that playing LSU has posed since 2000. That’s thirteen straight wins for the Tigers over the Bulldogs and fourteen is looking very likely. Yes, the LSU defense won’t be fixed in under a week, but if they have any pride, they will be chomping at the bit to flush their trip to Athens. A frenetic Mississippi State offense may be just the antidote that Chavis needs. To be fair to the Bulldogs, they have had legitimate chances of ending the losing streak to LSU in the last two meetings at Davis Wade Stadium. But they will be hosting a wounded team this weekend, and usually, the wounded animal is the most dangerous.
LSU 41, MISSISSIPPI STATE 28
No. 10 LSU Tigers (4-1, 1-1 SEC) at Mississippi State Bulldogs (2-2, 0-1)
Davis Wade Stadium (55,082); Starkville, MS
Saturday, Oct. 5; 6 p.m.
TV: ESPN; Radio: 98.1 FM