How it Happened
LSU jumped out on Mississippi State to a 20-0 lead, but took their foot off the gas in the second half, especially offensively. The Tigers defense stood tall for almost all of the game outside of being put in a couple bad spots late in the game. Leonard Fournette tallied 147 yards on 28 carries and two touchdowns while Danny Etling was an efficient 19-of-30 for 215 yards a touchdown. LSU opened the scoring with a 37-yard touchdown to D.J. Chark, followed by two back-to-back Fournette touchdown runs.
In the second half, LSU was shut out completely on the scoreboard as it watched the Bulldogs score two touchdowns in the final 4:10 in a furious rally. The Tigers were able to shut down State's last drive with good tackling and serious heat on Damian Williams, who came in for Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback to spark the two touchdown drives for State. LSU has to figure out a way to replicate its fast starts under Etling's direction and play 60 minutes. There were too many 1-on-1 wins for State down the stretch, which almost helped State to the upset. LSU's defense stepped up when it needed it though to close out the win.
What it Means
Well, LSU is a team that has to determine how to fix its second half woes, but goes 1-0 in SEC play by way of a Mississippi State team that really shouldn't have hung around like the Bulldogs did. LSU has some deficiencies in the secondary as both Rickey Jefferson and Kevin Toliver both struggled at times in coverage. In 1-on-1 situations, LSU struggled as on State's touchdown drive in the 4th quarter, Toliver and Ed Paris later in the drive. Offensively, the team just hasn't been able to move the ball in the second half this year and continued that trend on Saturday night. Etling continued to show the ability to check it down and use the tight ends, but overall, it wasn't enough as some key penalties and turnovers plagued the Tigers including two Fournette fumbles.
Player of the Game: Malachi Dupre
In what was an important game for Malachi Dupre to get back on track, the junior did just that. Dupre tallied plenty of first downs, didn't have a drop and was extremely clutch. Dupre did miss Etling on a reverse pass, but no worries as LSU scored a few players later in the first quarter. If that's the only thing we can pick on, that's good news for LSU and Dupre. Dupre put in the extra work after practice this week and it paid off. Dupre finished with four catches for 54 yards, all big ones for the Tigers' offense.
LSU's defensive line really ate up Mississippi State. The Tigers had six sacks and eight tackles for loss on the night. Arden Key continued his march to his goal of 20 sacks with his fifth on Saturday night.
Up next, LSU heads on the road to Auburn to face the Tigers on Saturday.