LSU matches up against Mississippi State on Saturday night in the first SEC game of the season for both teams.
The Tigers are off to a 2-0 start, after opening with a 27-0 shutout against BYU in New Orleans and then earning a 45-10 win over Chattanooga in Baton Rouge. Mississippi State is also 2-0, after opening with a 49-0 shutout of Charleston Southern and following up with a 57-21 win at Louisiana Tech.
SEC Country reporters Alex Hickey and Nick Suss are on the scene at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss. They will provide in-game observations and insights below:
Mississippi State 37, LSU 7
Once again, the LSU secondary was wide asleep for an easy Bulldogs touchdown pass, this one a 20-yarder to Austin Williams in the end zone.
END THIRD QUARTER: Mississippi State 30, LSU 7
LSU has 40 passing yards and is getting outgained, 355-170. This is shaping up to be one of the lowest nights in LSU history — at least since that night in New Orleans six years ago.
Mississippi State 30, LSU 7
A 35-yard Donald Gray punt return put the Bulldogs in Tigers territory. A 24-yard Nick Fitzgerald run put them in field goal range, and Jace Christmann came through.
Mississippi State 27, LSU 7
No defender was within 15 yards of Mississippi State wide receiver Keith Mixon after biting hard on a Fitzgerald play-action pass for the easiest 45-yard touchdown you’ll ever see. The lack of awareness didn’t end there — two Tigers had to rush onto the field late after only nine showed up for the point-after attempt.
Mississippi State 20, LSU 7
Stop if you’ve heard this one before: LSU kept a drive alive with a bad penalty and the end result was points for Mississippi State.
The Tigers had a three and out to open the second half, but that was negated after a targeting/roughing the passer penalty on Donnie Alexander gave MSU 15 free yards. It also resulted in Alexander’s ejection, meaning the Tigers will rely on freshman Tyler Taylor the rest of the way.
LSU’s defense stiffened, but not before a 45-yard Christmann field goal.
HALF: Mississippi State 17, LSU 7
Fitzgerald added another short touchdown run just before the half to give the Bulldogs a comfy cushion considering that they will open the second half with the ball.
Once again, LSU is getting absolutely clobbered by its lack of discipline. The Tigers committed 6 penalties for 72 yards in the first half. The defense is getting gutted by the Mississippi State offensive line, allowing 143 yards on 25 carries.
Mississippi State 10, LSU 7
Ah, what could have been. Safety John Battle had a bead on a potential pick 6 but had to settle for the pass breakup in the red zone. The Bulldogs took advantage of the second life with a 30-yard Christmann field goal.
Penalties hurt the Tigers yet again, with a pair of flags — illegal hands to the face on K’Lavon Chaisson and pass interference on Battle — helping MSU drive into field goal range.
LSU 7, Mississippi State 7
A nice counterpunch by the LSU offense. This may simply end up being a difficult night for both defensive fronts due to the humidity. The Tigers ran straight down State’s throat.
For the second time a would-be touchdown was negated due to a penalty — this one a hold on D.J. Chark — but in the end it didn’t matter. Darrel Williams’ 10-yard run put the Tigers on the board.
Mississippi State 7, LSU 0
The Tigers defense was whipped inside and out on Mississippi State’s first scoring drive of the game. The Bulldogs ground out an impressive eight-play, 65-yard drive that took just over 2 minutes off the clock despite primarily consisting of run plays. LSU has to be concerned with how weak it looked up front against the State offensive line. No penetration at all for the Tigers.
END FIRST QUARTER: LSU 0, Mississippi State 0
Outside of a would-be Chark receiving touchdown that was wiped out by an offensive pass interference flag, there has been no semblance of offense for either team in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs have outgained the Tigers, 90-64, with four first downs to LSU’s three. But at this point a battle of attrition is one that works to Mississippi State’s favor.
Pregame score predictions
Tigers 20, Bulldogs 17
Mississippi State has struggled even more than LSU in the kicking game this year, with two blocked field goals and two blocked extra points. So if this game comes down to a last-second kick — which I think it might — hold on to your butts. Anything could happen. — Alex Hickey
Tigers 26, Bulldogs 21
LSU quarterback Danny Etling and Bulldogs QB Nick Fitzgerald have yet to get creamed by a pass rush, so how they respond to pressure will be key. I’m giving LSU a slight advantage here because its secondary will smother the Mississippi State receivers, and Derrius Guice will break free. — Carter Bryant
Tigers 33, Bulldogs 21
Fitzgerald presents a new sort of menace to LSU’s stout defense with his dual-threat abilities, but Tigers defensive coordinator Dave Aranda has a new yet familiar weapon at his disposal in the form of Arden Key. Paired with star freshman K’Lavon Chaisson and a healthy Corey Thompson, expect Aranda to counter Fitzgerald’s mobility with blitzes to keep Fitzgerald out of his comfort zone and put the Tigers secondary in a position to capitalize. — Sam Spiegelman
Tigers 31, Bulldogs 21
LSU has the best rushing defense in the SEC. Mississippi State has the best passing defense in the SEC. They’re both ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring defense. The last thing anyone would expect between these two teams is a shootout. But that’s what I’m picking. — Nick Suss
Next on the schedule
The Tigers play host to Syracuse next Saturday (Sept. 23) at 7 p.m. CT in Baton Rouge. The television broadcast will be on ESPN2, ESPNU or SEC Network.