How will MSU respond to that heartbreaking loss to Auburn? The good news is, the game will be at home and the crowd will hopefully be able to lift the Bulldogs intensity. It’s not the Top 15, big time game everyone had hoped for, but it’s still a huge game. If State can win this one, it will quickly get the bad taste out of our mouths from last week’s crushing defeat.
Everyone is always quick to judge how good a team is after one or two games. Remember when everyone thought Auburn was awful because they almost got beat by Utah State? Same goes for LSU, they are getting a lot of love after they beat up on Oregon. Analysts would have you believe the LSU defense is so amazing not even an NFL team could score on them. Yes, they are good, but let’s take a step back for a minute.
In the Oregon game, LSU was the beneficiary of two fumbles inside their opponent’s 20 yard line, one of which they scored on after recovering. That’s 14 of their 40 points. Oregon has a lot of undersized players on the line of scrimmage, MSU’s lines are a lot bigger. LSU won’t be able to dominate in that area like they did in Dallas. If State can manage to not turn the ball over, they can hang with LSU.
Conventional wisdom is that LSU’s speed off the edge is so great, it will take away the option play that MSU ran so effectively against Auburn. If that is the case, then Chris Relf will likely have to throw more, against probably the first or second best secondary in the country. State’s receivers are going to have to block well so the option will be effective…they did a good job in the Auburn game, they will need to do better here. It’s going to be a tough game plan for Dan Mullen. MSU’s top rated SEC offense will surely be put to the test.
LSU’s offense is far from prolific. They still are without Russell Shepard at WR, and Jordan Jefferson is long gone. Spencer Ware and Michael Ford are solid running backs, and they will most likely rely on them and the defense to win the game. State’s defense has to show up for this game. Auburn ran circles around the defensive line for most of the game last week, but State has to bring the intensity in this one or LSU is going to blow their doors off. Somehow, someway, turnovers have to be forced. Whether it’s bringing pressure to force Jarrett Lee to make a bad throw and get an interception, or trying to strip the ball, State will probably need to get a pivotal turnover in this game to change the tide.
Mississippi State’s offense is very good. LSU defense is very very good. Both LSU’s offense and the MSU defense have a lot to prove. The special teams is what could decide this game. MSU started four drives inside their own 20 against Auburn. The top programs who recruit in the Top 10 every year may not have experience but they have speed, and a decent kicker plus lots of speed usually means good special teams. Those are hidden yards that Mississippi State has to find a way to negate. Field position will be key in this game. It is tough to score on LSU, if State has to drive 90 yards, it is next to impossible. And if we allow the Tigers to start their possessions near mid-field, their offense won’t have to do too much just to get into field goal range.
State can win this game, but they cannot turn the ball over. They need to play better on special teams, keeping LSU’s speedy kick returners from bringing it back to the 40, 50 yard line. Mississippi State is a 4.5 point underdog in this game, I think it will be that close as well. If State can get a turnover, especially in LSU territory, then they will win the game.