LSU rushing offense vs. Miss. State rushing defense
The LSU rushing attack has seemed a bit bogged down this season. The tandem of Justin Vincent and Alley Broussard is not getting the pop they in the latter half of the 2003 season and the Tiger offensive line is having its share of travails as well. LSU is very average in the rushing department averaging just 160 yards per game. However, the Mississippi State rushing defense is much worse than advertised giving up 151 yards per game. If anyone saw what Auburn's Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown did to the Bulldogs, there is no question who is favored here.
LSU passing offense vs. Miss. State passing defense
Last week, Marcus Randall started for the third straight game. After Randall showed some promise on the opening drive leading the team downfield for a touchdown, JaMarcus Russell came into the game and the Tigers' aerial assault never got on track. The LSU wide receivers seem to be coming into their own, but the passing game is still a bit shaky. Mississippi State is actually decent in the secondary giving up just 147 yards per game, good enough for 16th nationally. But are those stats skewed due to the fact most teams can run at will on the Bulldogs defense with little need to throw.
Miss. State rushing offense vs. LSU rushing defense
While Cadillac Williams and Ronnie Brown had their way with the LSU defense most of the day last weekend, the Tiger run stoppers did a good job of bending but not breaking. LSU hasn't done a very good job of tackling in any game this season, but for the most part has been effective allowing just 89 yards per game on the ground. Plus the Tigers haven't allowed a rushing touchdown yet this season. The Bulldogs have a capable duo of running backs in Fred Reid and Jerious Norwood, but look for the Tigers to dominate this area.
Miss. State passing offense vs. LSU passing defense
The Bulldogs have a very versatile signal caller in sophomore Omarr Conner. While the Mississippi State Bulldog offense can be anemic at times, Conner is really the only true player the Bulldogs possess whereas he can hurt you through the air and with his scrambling ability. Oregon State's Derek Anderson and Auburn's Jason Campbell both found comfort zones facing the LSU secondary, can Conner do the same?
LSU special teams vs. Miss. State special teams:
What a wacky season for the LSU special teams this season? The Tigers have been less than brilliant in this area with a number of fumbles, missed field goals and extra points and some poor punting early on. Mississippi State has had its trouble as well as kicker Keith Andrews missed a field goal against Maine and was denied the chance to try at another when the Bulldogs had the ball on the Black Bear 30-yard line. Mississippi State instead elected to pooch punt. Neither team is really strong in this area.
LSU has ruled this series winning 12 of the last 13 meetings with Mississippi State. While we feel the Bulldogs will eventually get better under the tutelage of Sylvester Croom, the Bulldogs are not very good at this point as shown in a 9-7 loss to I-AA Maine last weekend. Mississippi State hasn't won in Tiger Stadium since 1991 and hasn't been in a competitive game with LSU since the Tigers defeated the nationally ranked Bulldogs 45-38 in overtime in 2000.
Let's face it. Mississippi State is not a good football team. The Bulldogs are lacking in talent on both sides of the ball and it will take several years under Croom to re-build this program left in shambles by Jackie Sherrill. The fact is the Tigers do not have to play their best game to beat the Bulldogs. This one shouldn't be and will not be close in any stretch of the imagination. Mix in the fact LSU is still smarting from last week's one-point loss, Mississippi State is the perfect treat for the Tigers' craving. Look for head coach Nick Saban to grab an early lead and play lots of people trying to generate game experience for next week's showdown with Georgia in Athens.
LSU 49, Mississippi State 6
- Matt Deville