It was definitely the most exciting game of September, and should still rank as one of the best at season's end. Just don't expect the LSU Tigers to think of their trip to Georgia as a positive experience, no matter how thrilling it was.
Les Miles and LSU are back on the road for the first Saturday of October, and once again their opponents are the Bulldogs, this time from Mississippi State. The Tigers opened as 9. 5-10 point favorites to rebound from their first loss, a spread that has since dropped into the 9-9. 5 range on SBR's live college football odds. The 7:00 PM (ET) kickoff at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville will be televised by ESPN and carries a 54. 5 point total after beginning a half lower.
This is a series that has been dominated by Louisiana State, especially in the last two decades. The Tigers enter the matchup with a 13-game win streak, and 20 victories in the last 21 meetings to give LSU a 70-33-3 all-time edge. That 13-game win streak includes six straight on MSU's turf where three of the last four went OVER the total.
Can LSU Put Georgia Loss In Rearview Mirror?
I believe the Tigers can and that Miles will have them ready to play. Aaron Murray and the Georgia offensive line had an incredible day last week in front of the Bulldogs faithful, overshadowing a solid effort by Zach Mettenberger and his receiving corps. Losing by three on the road -- a push on the closing spread -- against the 6th-ranked team is no reason to hang heads, and the Tigers know full well they still can determine their own destiny despite the loss.
Miles and his coaching staff are no doubt looking at a lot of game film trying to dissect MSU on both sides of the ball, but they're probably most interested to see how Oklahoma State carved up 286 yards rushing on the Bulldogs back in Week 1. The LSU ground game was stifled in Georgia, and Mississippi State has since firmed up its run defense statistically by allowing less than 200 yards rushing in three games since.
Not that Miles wouldn't mind another big game from Mettenberger who has proven he can go to the air successfully. The 6th-best passer rating in the nation belongs to the senior QB who has a 13:1 TD/INT ratio and two incredible targets in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. , each averaging over 100 yards receiving in LSU's first five games. But Miles will want to accomplish more on the ground if he can.
Can MSU Finally Beat A Somebody?
Yes, Mississippi State is averaging 34 points per game and 460 yards of offense. And yes, the Bulldogs are giving up just 14. 3 per game, 16th-fewest in the country, while ranking 20th in total defense (310 ypg). But a lot of those numbers came in their two wins against the likes of Alcorn State and Troy, combined scores of 113-14. Can Dan Mullen's bunch pull off a signature win against a quality opponent?
The Bulldogs were unable to put it all together defensively in their two losses, the porous ground game against Oklahoma State and then a vulnerable pass defense two weeks later at Auburn in a 24-20 setback in the final seconds. Truth of the matter is, three Auburn turnovers put those Tigers in a position that they had to pull off a late win.
Mullen and his staff have had two weeks to prepare for this, and it's going to be difficult for the Bulldogs to stop Mettenberger through the air without opening up LSU's rushing attack, at least a little. Pressure falls to the MSU front seven as well as the offense to play error-free ball and not give the Tigers short fields to work with. The Bulldogs could have QB Tyler Russell back for this game, which could be a huge lift. The senior suffered a concussion in the loss to Oklahoma State in Week 1, and will be a game-time decision Saturday night.
Mother Nature & Final Thoughts
The weatherman is expecting it to be a wet day in Starkville with a 30% chance of showers lingering into the evening. Make sure to check that before playing the college football odds.
The Tigers have covered the last three in this series, and Saturday's spread is between their last two trips to MSU. Both ended up far closer than Miles and LSU would have liked, the nearest Mississippi State has come to upsets during the Tigers' current 13-game run. Louisiana State needed a 10-point 4th-quarter in 2011, the SEC opener for both schools, to put away the Bulldogs in a 19-6 victory en route to an SEC Championship. Two years prior to that, LSU needed a goal line stand in the final two minutes to hold on for a 30-26 triumph.
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I don't see this one staying as close. The potential for a wet field concerns me, along with the uncertainty regarding who will QB the Bulldogs, but I like the Tigers to cover for my free pick. LSU wins, 30-20.
My pick: Tigers -9. 5 at Bet365