The Mississippi St. Bulldogs football team will travel to Ruston, LA on Saturday to play the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. It’s the first trip to Ruston for Mississippi State since Sylvester Croom led the Bulldogs there in 2008. We would all rather forget that trip, so we’ll tell you what needs to happen to make sure it does.
Reasons to worry about LA Tech
- Louisiana Tech has been one of the better teams coming out of Conference USA the past few seasons. In 2016, they posted a 9-5 record and advanced to the C-USA championship game. They lost to Western Kentucky, but went on to beat a solid Navy team in the Armed Forces Bowl.
- Louisiana Tech can put up points. The Bulldogs averaged 44.3 points per game last season and 514.7 yards of total offense. Most of those yards came through the passing game. LA Tech averaged 363.4 passing yards a game a season ago.
- The Bulldogs are efficient. They averaged 7.5 yards per play and completed passes at a high percentage. Their quarterbacks in 2016 completed 66.8% of their 543 attempts.
Reasons not to worry about LA Tech
- As good as LA Tech has been the past few seasons on offense, they have been far less than spectacular on defense. In 2016, the Bulldogs were giving up 33.6 points a game and 421 yards of offense. Mississippi State should be able to move the football effectively against LA Tech.
- New faces on offense. LA Tech has to replace their starting quarterback from 2016 who accounted for almost 5,000 yards of total offense and their two leading receivers who accounted for over 3,300 yards
- This isn’t 2008. Yes, 2008 was awful and it got off to an awful start because Mississippi State went to Ruston, LA and lost to LA Tech. But this is 2017 with a new coaching staff and new players, and that awful performance will have zero impact on Saturday’s game.
Mississippi State will lose if...
- Running back Jarred Craft has a stellar game on the ground putting less pressure on new starter J’Mar Smith.
- J’Mar Smith is able to sit in the pocket and make throws without much pressure.
- Mississippi State’s offensive line can’t block Jaylon Ferguson who led Louisiana Tech with 14.5 sacks in 2016.
- Louisiana Tech is able to get an early lead and build on it which will have them believing they can pull off the upset.
Mississippi State will win if...
- Elgton Jenkins is able to get his snap issues fixed.
- #AlwaysRunNeverPass shows up and the offensive line is able to exert their physical dominance over the LA Tech defense.
- Nick Fitzgerald is elite running the football and efficient passing the football.
- Aeris Williams gets 20-25 carries and wears the LA Tech defense down and salts the game away in the 4th quarter.
- The defense looks half as good as it did in the opener against Charleston Southern.
I expect Louisiana Tech will put up a fight early, and give Mississippi State all they can for at least a quarter, possibly all the way up until halftime. But at some point in the game, the talent discrepancy between an SEC school and a Conference USA school will start to show. That’s when Mississippi State pulls away and can begin to look forward to a huge game for the Bulldogs against LSU. Give the good Bulldogs the win 44-24.