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Cat and Dog Fight: What to Expect in Mississippi State’s Game with LSU

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We preview Mississippi State’s big showdown with the Bayou Bengals.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Mississippi St. Bulldogs are set to square off against the LSU Tigers. It’s the first big test for both clubs. The last three contests between the programs have been decided by less than a possession, but LSU has emerged victorious the last two times, with Mississippi State winning in 2014. What can the Bulldogs do to ensure it doesn’t happen a third time in a row? I’m glad you asked...

Reasons to worry about LSU

  • The LSU Tigers have been ferocious on defense. They’re giving up 169.5 yards per game, and only 31.5 on the ground, the preferred way for Mississippi State to move the ball.
  • LSU is great at stopping the run, and they are great at running the football when they have it. The Tigers average 259 rushing yards per game and 5 yards per carry. Derrius Guice is picking up where he left off in 2016 with 112 yards per game and four touchdowns.
  • LSU would rather run the ball down your throat, but when they have passed it, they’ve done a good job. The LSU Receivers are averaging 17.3 yards per reception, led by DJ Chark who gets over 25 yards per catch.

Reasons not to worry about LSU

  • 17 freshmen are part of the regular rotation for the Tigers. LSU has been hit hard with transfers, especially the offensive line. The Bulldogs will have a big advantage in experience, and could eat up an offensive line still learning how to play together.
  • Danny Etling is their quarterback. He’s okay, but if LSU struggles at all to run the football, how much confidence do you have in Danny Etling to win the game for the Tigers?
  • Ed Orgeron is their coach. Orgeron has done a fine job in two recent stints as an interim coach, but until I see him succeed as a Full Time Head Coach, I’m not willing to believe it is possible.

Mississippi State will lose if...

  • The Bulldogs can’t keep Derrius Guice to around 4.5 yards per carry. Let him get his yards, but just make him work hard for every single one of them.
  • Danny Etling is able to make throws with very little pressure. I’m not sold on the ability of Etling, but even a bad quarterback can look good if he has time to throw in the pocket.
  • Arden Key wreaks havoc in the trenches. This will be his first game of the season, so everyone will be looking to see if he is ready for SEC play. If he is, Nick Fitzgerald might be running for his life Saturday night.
  • Nick Fitzgerald gets off to another slow start like he did against LA Tech. The last thing the Bulldogs offensive line needs is a bad performance with his arm so that LSU can just focus on the run.

Mississippi State will win if...

  • The Bulldogs are able to be consistent in the passing game. Mississippi State would prefer to run the football, but they have to keep the LSU defense honest with the passing game.
  • Nick Fitzgerald has time to throw. A regular occurrence for Mississippi State is their inability to win when teams get pressure on their quarterback. When they provide protection, the Bulldogs usually do alright.
  • A receiver needs to have a big game. Donald Gray and Fitzgerald have good chemistry, so maybe it is him. If it isn’t, someone has to step up and be a receiving threat.
  • The defense continues to be aggressive. The risk for big plays will be there for LSU if Todd Grantham continues the aggressive style he has shown so far, but it could also present opportunities for turnovers.
  • Jeffery Simmons continues his breakout year. He’s as talented as any player that will step on the field this season whenever the Bulldogs play, and he needs to continue the hot start he has gotten off to.

Prediction

I still don’t trust Ed Oregeron. Maybe he has learned since his time at Ole Miss, but I'm not buying it. Combine that with an offensive line that had to be patched together at the start of the season with a ton of inexperience and I think Mississippi State wins this game, 24-20.