LSU has been one of the more interesting teams in college football this season. They’ve beaten elite team after elite team, but still have no margin for error after suffering a loss.
Here, the Tigers take on a Mississippi State Bulldogs team that lives up to its nickname, with a tough defense and physical offense that tried to bully its opponents into submission. LSU comes into this clash of ranked SEC squads as a 6 point favorite at BetOnline as they look to keep their playoff hopes alive.
The best scoring defense in the country resides in Starkville, with Mississippi State allowing just 12.7 points per game. The Bulldogs are capable of stopping even elite level offenses, as they showed when they held Auburn to just nine points in their last game. They’ll need their defense to step up again in this game as points are usually hard to come by for visitors to Death Valley.
On offense, Mississippi State is averaging 240.7 yards per game rushing, a mark good for 18th in the country. A lot of that has to do with dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, who has been a headache for SEC defenses throughout his time as a Bulldog.
Fitzgerald is leading the team in both rushing and passing yardage on the season. His passing stats don’t look overly impressive on the surface, with the Bulldogs averaging 190 yards per game passing. That average is good for 105th in the country, but Fitzgerald more than makes up for it with his legs.
Thanks to an offense that is designed around quarterback runs to set up the pass, Mississippi State is averaging 31 points per game, putting them 59th in college football.
This is the first real road test on the season for the Bulldogs. They already failed a much smaller road test this season when they lost to Kentucky earlier this season.
It is also the first game of three in four weeks where the Bulldogs will take on a ranked SEC team. They also play Texas A&M and Alabama during this stretch, which could be disastrous if they don’t start it with a win here.
LSU Tigers Week 8 Analysis
LSU, like Mississippi State, is led by its defense. The Tigers are 17th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 16.9 points per game. They held Georgia to 16 points, despite all of the talent of Georgia’s offense. So it’s certainly possible that LSU can stop Fitzgerald as well.
The Tigers are 37th in the nation in rushing offense at 202.1 yards per game. Nick Brossette, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Joe Burrow are all averaging over 4.0 yards per carry on 50 or more rush attempts. Brossette with 640 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.
LSU is averaging 202.1 yards per game passing, 101st in the country. Against a team like Mississippi State, it might be more difficult for LSU to move the ball on the ground. That means that Joe Burrow will have to move the ball through the air at some point.
Burrow is not lighting things up in terms of yardage or touchdowns, but he is avoiding turnovers. He has six touchdown passes and just two interceptions on the season. It seems impossible to only have six touchdowns this late in the season, but whatever is happening at quarterback has worked for them so far
You’ll notice that LSU has the same passing and rushing averages. That is pretty meaningless, but is an interesting fact. Talk about a balanced offense!
LSU is scoring 32 points per game on the season, good for 50th in college football. But when your defense is as good as their defense is, 32 points can feel like 50 to an opponent.
The Tigers have three wins over top-10 teams on the season. They’ve had as many wins over ranked teams this season as they have over unranked teams. That is very impressive, but their loss to a ranked Florida team has made it so they can’t afford to lose another game this season.
After this game, LSU has a bye before taking on Alabama in Death Valley. The week off should prevent the Tigers from looking ahead in this game, as they will want to make a statement before that rivalry game takes place.
Mississippi State vs. LSU Trends
Mississippi State is 4-2 against the spread on the season. They are 7-2 against the spread against teams with a winning record in their last nine tries. But the Bulldogs are a mere 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against SEC opponents.
LSU is 4-3 against the spread on the year heading into this game. Against SEC opponents, the Tigers are a red-hot 9-1 against the spread in their last 10 games. In their last 14 contests against all opponents, the Tigers are 10-4 against the spread.
This should be a good game between two teams looking to continue to ascend the ranks in the SEC, but the Tigers should be able to get the job done in this one with their season on the line.
The LSU defense will be able to use this game as a tune-up against a mobile quarterback capable of moving the ball through the air as they prepare for Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa in the near future.
This won’t be a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination, as both teams are among the best in the nation at getting defensive stops. However, the Tigers should be able to get more stops than the Bulldogs as they continue to avoid turnovers and grind out enough points on the ground to pick up a relatively convincing victory here.
From there, the focus of the college football world will start to turn to the massive game between LSU and Alabama. Roll with the Tigers here before they attempt to roll over the Tide.