Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) vs. No. 20 LSU Tigers (1-1 SU, 0-2 ATS)
College Football Week 3
Date/Time: Saturday September 17th , 2016. 7:00PM (EST)
Where: Tiger Stadium Baton Rouge, L.A.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MSU +16/LSU -16
Over/Under Total: TBA
The Mississippi State Bulldogs shook off one of the worse losses in school history last week with a 27-14 bounce back victory over South Carolina to kickoff SEC competition. The Bulldogs previously suffered an embarrassing loss to South Alabama, out of the FCS, in their opener thanks in part to a missed field goal with just a few seconds on the clock. With an SEC win under their belt and the look of an entirely different team than we saw in week 1, the Bulldogs hope to keep their momentum alive as they go into Baton Rouge this Saturday night for a big showdown with the no. 20 LSU Tigers.
The Tigers also suffered a week 1 loss at the hands of Wisconsin but were also able to get their first win of the season last week in a 34-13 final over Jacksonville State. However, LSU has not played very well in either of those contests dropping both games against the spread. If you have seen LSU play this year, then you may have noticed a very similar storyline as to what we saw from Coach Les Miles’ team in 2015 with very poor play at the quarterback position. It was the play at the quarterback position that nearly sent Les Miles packing last year. After a 7-0 start and expectations peaking, the Tigers dropped 3 straight games last year before beating Texas A&M to close out the season. In those 4 games, the Tigers never scored more than 19 points and the offense was just in shambles.
The horrible offensive numbers from the end of 2015 appear even worse when you consider the Tigers have one of the best running backs in college football in Leonard Fournette. However the LSU offense could never establish a somewhat capable passing attack to keep defenses from focusing solely on stopping Fournette. So why am I talking about 2015? Because nothing has changed thus far in 2016 as this team nearly mirrors the team we saw last year. Extremely talented but extremely one dimensional. The Tigers offense was embarrassing at times in the loss against Wisconsin. Their 14 points were mainly because of the defense. The defense had a pick 6 and another turnover deep inside the Tigers territory which setup their only offensive touchdown. Outside of that, quarterback Brandon Harris was incapable of hitting anything and the Badgers continued to focus on stopping Fournette which ultimately led to the 16-14 victory for Wisconsin.
It amazes me that a team so talented can have such horrible quarterback play. In last week’s victory over Jacksonville State, the offense gave Danny Etling the chance to take over after Harris hit just 1 of his first 4 targets. However, Etling was very inconsistent as well hitting 6 of 14 passing for 100 yards with 1 score and 1 pick. Fournette sat out last week to recover from an ankle injury. Luckily the offense was still able to bully their way towards 244 yards on the ground against Jacksonville State in route to the victory. Still the quarterback play did not point towards any long term solution especially when they get in games against more talent leveled competition.
Until LSU finds some consistency at the quarterback position, they are going to struggle to win football games. Despite Mississippi State’s embarrassing loss to South Alabama, they are still a physical football team and well coached. The Bulldogs defense is solid and the offense found some answers last week with quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald got the start over Damian Williams in the game against South Carolina and took every advantage of it. Fitzgerald was able to spread the ball around to Fred Ross and the rest of the Bulldogs receivers. He was also able to make plays on the ground as the quarterback scampered for 195 rushing yards against the Gamecocks. Obviously things will be tougher this week for the Bulldogs against a very talented defense in one of the most hostile environments in college football but I saw a spark last week that could carry this Bulldogs team into Saturday especially with LSU having so many issues on offense.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Mississippi State +16
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