No. 3 LSU (2-0) at No. 25 Mississippi State (1-1, 0-1 SEC)
7 p.m./Davis Wade Stadium/ WDGL-FM 98.1/XM 91; Sirius 91/ESPN
Series record: LSU leads 68-33-3 and has won 11 straight games against the Bulldogs. State’s last win was 1999 (17-16). The Tigers own more wins vs. the Bulldogs than any other SEC team.
In the spotlight: QB Jarrett Lee (6-2, 206, Sr.)
Season stats: 19-of-32 passing for 231 yards; 2 TD, 0 int.
For two games, Lee has done exactly what the LSU coaches and the offense needed him to do: Manage the game, limit mistakes and keep the Tigers in position to score when they could. Now the fifth-year senior might need to amp his game up a bit and make plays himself if LSU intends to get SEC play off on the right foot. Not that he has to be spectacular, but Mississippi State’s defense figures to try and take away the running game early and make Lee make things happen. It will be important for Lee to have success throwing the ball on early downs to keep the offense from becoming predictable.
Sept. 3 LSU 40, Oregon 27
Sept. 10 LSU 49, Northwestern State 3
Sept. 15 at Mississippi State, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 at West Virginia, TBA
Oct. 1 Kentucky, TBA
Oct. 8 Florida, TBA
Oct. 15 at Tennessee, TBA
Oct. 22 Auburn, TBA
Nov. 5 at Alabama
Nov. 12 Western Kentucky
Nov. 19 at Ole Miss
Nov. 25 Arkansas
Dec. 3 SEC Championship Game
In the spotlight: WLB Cameron Lawrence (6-2, 225, Jr.)
Season stats: 18 tackles (13 unassisted), 3½ tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
Last week Lawrence was the Tasmanian devil all over the field against Auburn with 14 tackles and he helped snuff out several plays before they got started. He has to duplicate that performance this week and maybe more for the Bulldogs to stand up against LSU’s running game. If he can spearhead a stout effort against the run and State can push the Tigers towards a more pass-oriented attack, the Bulldogs’ chances of creating turnovers and winning the game increase. If LSU’s offensive line and fullback James Stampley are able to neutralize State’s linebackers – especially Lawrence – then the night could be a long one for the ’Dogs.
Sept. 1 Mississippi State 59, Memphis 14
Sept. 10 Auburn 41, Mississippi State 34
Sept. 15 LSU, 7 p.m.
Sept. 24 Louisiana Tech, TBA
Oct. 1 at Georgia, TBA
Oct. 8 at UAB, 11 a.m.
Oct. 15 South Carolina, TBA
Oct. 29 at Kentucky, TBA
Nov. 5 UT-Martin, TBA
Nov. 12 Alabama, TBA
Nov. 19 at Arkansas, TBA
Nov. 26 Ole Miss, TBA
Three keys to the game
- Short but sweet: In a rare short week of work, it’s important that the Tigers make their extra work load worth the effort. If that means sticking to a basic game plan and executing to near perfection, that’s fine. If it means digging deep into the playbook for something Mississippi State isn’t expecting, well, that may be necessary. The players on both teams had to pack in a bunch of information in a shorter than usual time period and whoever handled that task better and takes it onto the field has an edge.
- Hurry up but stay patient: LSU has had notable success with an up-tempo offense the last few seasons, especially with Jarrett Lee at quarterback, and that could come in awfully handy against the Bulldogs, who don’t have the same level of depth that the upper-echelon SEC teams possess. That said, no matter what pace the Tigers opt for, they can’t get greedy and try to strike too quickly – not with a power running game as the backbone of an offense that is at its best when it throws the ball on its own terms.
- More of the same: With a blueprint already in place from the season opener against Oregon’s offense, the LSU defense knows exactly what to do against a spread-option offense, even if State’s is a little different schematically. The focus for the Tigers will again be on keeping the ball carrier in front of them and choking off big plays, especially from Bulldogs’ quarterback Chris Relf. If LSU is able to clamp down and can frustrate Relf and/or Vick Ballard as much as it did Oregon’s star tandem of LaMichael James and Darron Thomas, the stage would be set for another dominant performance.
LSU’s first test of the SEC season and in the West Division land mine is a very tricky one because of the short week and the magnitude of the game to the Bulldogs and a fan base ravenous for a big victory. Mississippi State will be sky-high to start with, but the Tigers’ talent will take over and wear the Bulldogs down, especially on defense, and that will offset MSU’s effective running game and home-field advantage. LSU might not be flashy on offense, but Drew Alleman will take the first real step toward replacing Josh Jasper and give the Tigers points when they need them. ... LSU 23, Miss. State 16