Up #1: LSU gets Dupre back in a groove
The stats will be deceiving here with LSU wide receiver Malachi Dupre's night, but Dupre was huge for the Tigers. Dupre's first three catches of his four all went for first downs. The fourth catch went for 17 yards with the Tigers backed up on 2nd down coming from their own 1-yard line. That final catch of the night could have sealed the game completely if Leonard Fournette had not fumbled two plays later. Dupre even threw a pass tonight, which was incomplete to Danny Etling on a reverse. Having the pair link up for a few passes tonight was a huge improvement over Dupre's first two games. The extra work paid off for Dupre tonight and while it wasn't a huge night, the plays the junior receiver made were critical. Honorable mention is D.J. Chark, who caught his first touchdown pass for the Tigers on Saturday night.
Up #2: Defensive Pressure
Whenever you have six sacks and eight tackles for loss, you're doing something right. After the game, Arden Key said that LSU went back to their basics with a 4-man front more often tonight and allowed the linemen to get after Mississippi State's quarterbacks. Key had two sacks tonight and continued his march towards his goal of 20. The pressure on Nick Fitzgerald was constant and violent. Even LSU defensive back Tre'Davious White sacked Fitzgerald. Dave Aranda mixed a lot of calls up and confused State, leading to pressure and big-time stops.
Up #3: Josh Growden
The LSU punter tonight was solid and really set the Tigers up to win the field position battle. Josh Growden hit a game-changing punt when the Tigers went three and out on their second to last offensive series. That punt set Mississippi State up on the Bulldogs' 21 and the Tigers forced a turnover on downs. Growden averaged 49.2 yards per punt on five punts with a long of 65. That's a good night for a punter that generally has struggled. Growden's clutch punt was big and his coverage unit was outstanding again.
Down #1: 1-on-1 matchups
Mississippi State struggled with just 15 yards on the ground in the first half and finished with 56 yards total on the ground, which made the Bulldogs go to the air. That was met with limited success with Nick Fitzgerald in at quarterback. The Bulldogs just missed on a few too many opportunities. State targeted the likes of Kevin Toliver, Ed Paris, Rickey Jefferson and Dwayne Thomas. Thomas got called for a questionable pass interference call, while Jefferson, Tolive and Paris had struggles of their own. In one instance, Jamal Adams came all the way over to break up a pass as Toliver was waiting for it to come to him for an interception. Adams ended up saving a touchdown. Overall, LSU has to step up while Tre'Davious White and Donte Jackson are usually in solid coverage across the board.
Down #2: Fumbles, Penalties
Leonard Fournette had two lost fumbles on the night and none more critical than the one on LSU's drive that had started from its own 1-yard line. The Tigers were on their way to way potentially putting the game out of reach, but Fournette's fumble gave the Bulldogs new life. LSU can't allow that to become a thing for Fournette. The Bulldogs hit and hit Fournette tonight and he's got to have better ball security. That same drive, Foster Moreau was called for a low block that really back LSU up and put the Tigers in a bad spot. LSU can't have drive killers like that in SEC play and especially on the road next week.
Down #3: Near Collapse
Plenty of Tiger fans had left already, but the ones that stayed were treated to what could have been a monumental collapse at home by the Tigers. Thanks to Mississippi State winning too many 1-on-1 battles after Damian Williams came in at quarterback and an onside kick recovered by the Bulldogs, LSU was on the brink of collapsing. Miles in his postgame pinned it on the fumbles and onside kick mentioned already, but that was more of defensive breakdowns and the onside recovery unit failing to execute. It made the game a lot closer than it should have, but these are fixable issues for LSU. The 1-on-1 matchups that State took advantage of are the most concerning. Other teams will begin to see that and use it to their advantage. That's one way State clawed their way back into this one and nearly came back.