Breaking down the Bulldogs

Coming off one of the largest wins in the modern era last week against Georgia, LSU football coach Nick Saban leads his team into Starkville on Saturday for an 8 p.m. matchup with Mississippi State. <br><br> The game will be televised on ESPN2. <br><br> One of the worst teams in the SEC, the Bulldogs are 0-3 for the first time since 1968 and have lost back to back game to Conference USA teams.

Key Matchups to Watch on Saturday


Kevin Fant leads a passing game that has been one of the

few positives for the 0-3 Bulldogs. (MSU)


Quarterback vs. Defensive End

Miss. State QB Kevin Fant vs. LSU DE Marcus Spears

Mississippi State quarterback Kevin Fant's numbers are no horrible. Having completed 63-of-114 passes this season, Fant's problems come with interceptions having thrown six on the year, including five in last week's loss at Houston. LSU's Marcus Spears has become a fixture in the backfield lately and look for him to terrorize Fant all night long.


Running Back vs. Linebacker

LSU RB Shyrone Carey vs. Miss. State LB T. J. Mawhinney

LSU running back has emerged as the Tigers top running back over the last couple of weeks. His elusiveness and slashing running style has brought about parallels with former LSU back Domanick Davis. T.J. Mawhinney, a Louisiana product, was a pleasant surprise for the Bulldosg last season recording 57 tackles with two interceptions. Mawhinney better hold on to his socks because Carey can juke him right out of them.



The Matchups

LSU vs. Mississippi State


LSU tailback Shyrone Carey has been a sparkplug for the LSU

running game in the last two games. (MJBrown)


LSU rushing offense vs. Mississippi State rushing defense

LSU struggled mightily to run the ball effectively against a powerful Georgia defensive front a week ago. The Tigers managed just 105 yards on the ground despite grinding out some crucial runs, including Shyrone Carey's 21-yard, second quarter touchdown run. Look for the Tigers to run wild over the Bulldogs, who rank 82nd in the nation giving up 169 yards per game on the ground.

Advantage: LSU


LSU quarterback Matt Mauck threw the game winning TD pass

in last week's 17-10 win over Georgia. (LSU)


LSU passing offense vs. Mississippi State passing defense

This is a no brainer. The LSU passing attack has improved from a season ago when Matt Mauck completed just four passes in the Tigers 31-13 win over the Bulldogs. State's beleaguered secondary ranks 117th in the country (dead last) in passing defense giving up 342 yards per game. Taking into consideration MSU has played Oregon from the pass-happy Pac-10 and a pair of aerial wizards from Conference-USA, Mauck should go nuts and throw at will against Mississippi State swiss cheese secondary.

Advantage: LSU


LSU defensive tackle Chad Lavalais has become a nightmare

to opposing offenses. (LSU)


Mississippi State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense

The Tigers are giving up just 109 yards on the ground per game, which good enough for 9th nationally. LSU allowed just 95 yards by Georgia's running game, and let's just say the Georgia Bulldogs run the ball better than Starkville High…. er, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. MSU is averaging just 153 yards each contest, and that is against a Pac-10 and two C-USA defenses. Bad news.

Advantage: LSU


Mississippi State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense

The Tigers outstanding passing defensive numbers took quite a shot last week when David Greene eclipsed the 300-yard mark. The most positive aspect of coach Jackie Sherrill's team is quarterback Kevin Fant. But Fant is nowhere close to Greene. Look for Chad Lavalais and the rest of the Tiger defensive front seven to camp out in the Bulldog backfield.

Advantage: LSU


LSU return specialist Devery Henderson had a 50-yard return

last week setting up the game-winning touchdown. (MJBrown) 


LSU special teams vs. Mississippi State special teams:

Field goals are still interesting for the Tigers, but the special teams are improving. Ryan Gaudet pitching wedged a 48-yard field goal through last week and Donnie Jones was steady booming eight punts for a 40-yard average. The return game is LSU's strength and Devery Henderson and Shyrone Carey will continue to slice through opponent's kick coverage's – Mississippi State's will be no different.

Advantage: LSU



Mississippi State will at least have homefield advantage for

Saturday's nationally televised game. (MSU)



Playing a team as bad as Mississippi State, we would usually give LSU all the advantages but this game comes at a bad time for the Tigers. Fresh off one of the biggest wins in the modern era, LSU will be looking to try and avoid the "big win" letdown by going to Starkville and returning with a win. The last LSU squad that experienced the letdown was the 1997 Tigers after a win over No. 1 Florida. The next week, a team from Mississippi (Ole Miss), spoiled LSU's fun registering a huge upset.

Advantage: Mississippi State


Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill has beaten LSU

only twice in 13 tries. (MSU)




UL-Monroe, Arizona, Western Illinois now Mississippi State. This is the fourth bad team in five weeks LSU will play. It is a good thing the Tigers got a win over No. 7 Georgia for credibility. This one won't be close – Mississippi State can only hope to stay in the game for a quarter. The Bulldogs' passing defense is the worst in America and as a team defensively, they rank 116. These numbers tell the tale as LSU's offense will roll over the Bulldogs collecting gaudy stats and a lopsided score. The sad thing is, remember three years ago when Mississippi State was a contender possessing the nation's best defense. It wasn't that long ago, but to the cow belling-ringing regulars, it must seem like an eternity. Turn out the lights Jackie, your party is over.

- LSU 42, Mississippi State 3 -




Player to Watch



WR  Justin Jenkins

6-1, 210, Senior

Pearl High School, Pearl, Miss.


Why is important to stop him:

Jenkins is quarterback Kevin Fant's first option in the passing. Through three games he has caught 24 balls for 397 yards and five touchdowns. Coming into the year, Jenkins was listed 10th all-time on MSU's list for but pass and touchdown receptions.


Who has to stop him:

Being that Jenkins is State's top wide receiver, all-SEC cornerback Corey Webster will get the nod to defend him. Webster is one of the top defensive backs in the SEC as well as the nation and he should add to his already growing number of interceptions.

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