Kind of a weird thing about this weeks edition of B/W/B: I, JK, currently living in Tuscaloosa, am in Auburn writing a piece about a game between Mississippi State and LSU. So I’ve pretty much got the best pieces of the SEC West covered without even writing a sentence.
But that’s not why I’m here, and it’s not why you’re here. You’re ready for me to get on with it and start making some predictions about how this game could go. But first, a little bit about these LSU Tigahs.
The team from Louisiana State started with a “neutral site” contest against BYU in the Super Dome, in which they held the Cougars to under 100 yards of offense. We have to be honest though, most of Brigham Young was as drunk as they’ve ever been just off of the fumes of Bourbon Street. That was a mormon joke in case you missed it. Anyway, in week 2, the Bayou Bengals faced off against Mississippi State Lite, otherwise known as UT Chattanooga feat. Nick Tiano. That went about how you would expect — LSU pretty much curb-stomped the Mocs.
The truth is that this game is a bit of a litmus test for both programs. It’s been great to demolish lesser opponents, but we’re all pretty curious about how things will go against SEC-level competition. And things could go any number of ways.
BEST case scenario:
The Bulldogs win and they win big. Forgive me, but I’m getting similar vibes this year to when we went into Baton Rouge and finally beat the Tigers back in 2014. We’ve got a monopoly on good televised football games for the first hour or so of this game too (Clemson vs. Louisville comes on at 7:00 CT), so if we want to make a statement, this is the time to do it. And if MSU can find a weakness in the LSU defense and exploit it, then I think we can surprise some people in this game.
We have some explosive runs and turn short passes into long gains. Count me skeptical of our offense’s ability to push the ball downfield through the air. Folks have questioned our offensive line’s capacity in terms of protecting Nick Fitzgerald, but if we have a lot of successful runs we can keep the Tigers defense hesitant. Quick passes mean Nick won’t be waiting to be pummeled as a play develops. If the quick passes go for a couple of yards, then we won’t do much through the air, but if we can get some of our quick guys in some space, I think we can have some explosive plays.
We hold Derrius Guice to a moderate yard total and, more crucially, avoid giving up the big play. We saw how giving up large chunks of yardage can lead to points last week when we gave up a 58 yard pass to LA Tech before their first field goal. The LSU offense flows through Guice, so if we can slow him down, we have a chance to keep LSU to a low point total.
We win 31-14.
WORST case scenario:
If this LSU team is as real as most people expect, we could find ourselves embarrassed at home. It’s easy to make fun of Coach O after his tenure at Ole Miss, but this is a completely different coach. He’s more trusting of his assistants, and he’s got a couple of great ones in Dave Aranda (defensive coordinator) and Matt Canada (offensive coordinator). If Aranda can scheme a way to stop Nick Fitzgerald and Canada can come up with some surprises on offense, the Bulldogs will have no chance in this one.
Arden Key* comes back from injury and immediately wreaks havoc on our offensive line. Key is one of the best defensive linemen in the entire country, and if he shakes off the rust early in his first game back from shoulder surgery he could be a disruptive force for the Tiger defense.
Fitz doesn’t improve his accuracy while being forced to throw in order for us to win the game. Let’s be real, Nick looked pretty bad at the start of the LA Tech game, and if that crops up against the bigger Louisiana program, things could get ugly.
We lose 31-14.
Sissy** bold: Our kickers don’t miss a single field goal in this game.
Bare-hand gator wrestling bold: Most of you have no idea, but the 2014 LSU-MSU game was the birth of JK’s Best/Worst/Bold. FWtCT had a similar weekly article at the time, and in the comments I predicted (correctly) that Louisiana would find itself in dire financial straits***. I won’t go quite as bold this time around, but my still incredibly bold prediction is that Florida somehow finds it’s quarterback for the season this week against Tennessee and rides his hot streak all the way to the SEC Championship Game****.
JK’S TOTALLY COMPUTER GENERATED ADVANCED STATS NOT MADE UP ON A WHIM ACTUAL SCORE PREDICTION: The good guys lose 21-17.
*please be aware that it was very hard not to make a joke about a “Key” of the game here. Carry on.
**not actually all that sissy this week tbh
***so maybe it didn’t have anything to do with an earthquake caused by the crowd in Death Valley and the Mississippi River drying up, but I’m still hanging my hat on that one
****against the MSU Bulldogs obviously