Mississippi State Bulldogs (1-1, 1-1 ATS) at No. 15 LSU Tigers (2-0, 1-1 ATS), Week 3 College Football,
Saturday September 18th, 7:00PM Eastern Death Valley Baton Rouge, L.A.
By Jay Horne, Professional NCAA Football Handicapper of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: MSU +8.5/Louisiana State University -8.5
The SEC West heats up this weekend when the no. 15 LSU Tigers host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Death Valley this Saturday night. The Tigers took a trip to Nashville last week and pulled out of town with a 27-3 victory over Vanderbilt. The Tigers put up a dominating defensive performance holding the Commodores to just 135 total yards on the night. The Tigers defense has been very impressive in their opening two contests and the folks down in Baton Rouge believe that they can contend for an SEC Championship. As for the visiting Bulldogs, they are coming off a heart dropping loss on Thursday night to Auburn 17-14. The Bulldogs put up a solid defensive performance themselves but simply fell short failing to capitalize on a few offensive possessions late in the game.
However, the Thursday night performance does give the Bulldogs a few extra days to prepare for their road trip to LSU. Mississippi State has a lot of similarities to the LSU team they will be going up against. The Bulldogs have a strong defense, but still need the offense to find more production. The Bulldogs offensive woes come from behind center where they have juggled responsibilities between quarterbacks Tyler Russell and Chris Relf.
Russell had a strong outing in the Bulldogs opener against Memphis completing 13 of 16 passing for 256 yards and 4 touchdowns. That single performance earned Russell the starting job against Auburn, but the freshman was held to just 4 of 9 passing with 1 interception on the night. Relf failed to do much better completing 12 of 25 passing for 125 yards. The receiving core is led by WR Chad Bumphis who has 9 catches for 134 yards and 2 scores this season. Bumphis is a guy that can make things happen once the ball gets into his hand, but as with the quarterback troubles the problem has been getting him the ball.
Tailbacks Vick Ballard and LaDarius Perkins have not racked up a ton of yards on the season. However, both have averaged over 6 yards per carry in limited action. Both backs were held to minimal yardage in their loss to Auburn, but again that has a lot of responsibility on the lack of passing production. Auburn loaded the box all night long and just dared the Bulldogs to beat them through the air and it simply never happened. Do not expect to see anything different with the LSU defense this week as they will enter with a very similar game plan. Therefore, the Bulldogs need something to happen early with the pass offense to know the Tigers defense off of the line which could greatly increase the offenses chance of being successful.
On the LSU sideline, they have not had any dominating offensive performances to date this season as well. Even in their 27-3 victory over Vanderbilt, the LSU offense did not post but 10 points in the first 3 quarters of play. QB Jordan Jefferson has to have a big year for LSU to truly contend for an SEC Championship. Jefferson had a solid performance in the opener against North Carolina, but disappointed last week completing just 8 of 20 passes for 96 yards and a pick against the Commodores. Luckily, junior tailback Stevan Ridley got the ground game rolling behind that big LSU offensive line. Ridley compiled 159 yards on just 17 carries on the night which kept the tone in favor of the Tigers all night long. Over the past two seasons, LSU has been carried by strong running attacks. However, they need the passing offense to be more consistent so that offense can be more complete.
As for the Tigers defense, they have been simply outstanding against the run. The LSU defense has held their last two opponents to just 89 yards combined over the last two games. Therefore, it will be much more difficult for Mississippi State to get the offense going unless something is established through the air as previously mentioned. Also, the Tigers secondary was eaten up by North Carolina’s T.J Yates in week 1 as he posted 412 yards against the Tigers pass defense. Therefore, LSU is susceptible to the pass. However, the pass game has to be established to open up the run for the Mississippi State offense and not vice versa.
Jay’s pick to cover the point spread: I like the Bulldogs to cover here. Auburn is perhaps more dangerous offensively than LSU and the Bulldogs defense kept Cameron Newton at bay last week. If they play solid again defensively, 13 points is too large to cover for LSU especially if MSU can make some plays on offense. Take MSU +8.5.