LSU comes in at 1-1 following a rout over Southern after a disappointing and dramatic loss to Florida State in the opener. MSU is perfect through 2 games and riding a productive, pass-happy offense.
Here’s what you need to know about this weekend’s matchup.
LSU vs. Mississippi State football preview, prediction
How to watch
When: Sat., Sept. 17
Time: 6 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN network
Odds, point spread, betting lines
Line: Mississippi State -2
Moneyline: MSU -143 LSU +110
FPI pick: LSU 56.6%
What you need to know
Mississippi State: Turnovers intervened a few too many times last week when the Bulldogs had chances to pull away from Arizona, two fumbles after catches and one bounced pass picked off. Will Rogers still had 313 yards and four scores in the win and is a near 80% passer on the year. When it keeps the ball to itself, the Air Raid can get chunk yards almost at will now in Mike Leach’s 3rd year. And the defense, one of the SEC’s best a year ago, can make some key plays, too, with the ball in the air.
LSU: Jayden Daniels can be unique in this offense. The transfer QB has led the Tigers on eight straight TD drives, and, if he can keep building on the solid effort he had late in the Florida State game through last week’s romp over Southern, this offense can make some noise in the SEC West. That is, provided it can get Kayshon Boutte involved a lot more: throwing to 11 receivers last week is good, but Boutte, one of the top receivers in college football, has just seven catches for 62 yards.
LSU vs. Mississippi State: Fast Facts
+ MSU has 16 pass defenses, 6th most in FBS and 1st in the SEC
+ MSU is 9-0 when scoring 30 points under Mike Leach
+ Malik Nabers leads LSU with 8 catches for 123 yards
+ MSU is 9-2 when scoring first under Leach
+ LSU’s 37 points in the 1st qtr last week were the most in school history
+ Will Rogers is 2nd nationally with 9 pass TDs and 3rd with 381.5 ypg
+ LSU’s defensive line returns 44.5 TFLs and 23 sacks
+ Mississippi State returns 79.1% of its defensive production from last season, a unit that placed 4th in the SEC
+ DB Major Burns and LB Greg Penn lead LSU with 11 tackles
+ MSU has allowed fewer than 150 rush yards in 17 games since 2020, 3rd best in the SEC in that time
+ LSU averages 449.0 ypg and MSU 485.6 yards per game
+ MSU receiver Caleb Ducking is 9th in FBS with 3 TD catches
+ LSU has allowed 7 1st half points and limited opponents to 4 for 7 in the red zone
+ MSU is 22-5 when scoring 24-plus points and 0-7 scoring less than 21 under Leach
+ LSU has thrown a TD in 44 straight games
+ Mississippi State is 2-8 under Leach when trailing after the 1st qtr, 2-12 when trailing at halftime, and 2-11 when trailing after 3 under Leach
+ Jayden Daniels has at least 2 TD passes in 13 of his 30 career starts
+ MSU is 11-2 when leading after 1, 11-1 when leading at halftime, and 11-1 when leading after 3 under Leach
Despite its reputation as an offensive team, the Bulldogs’ defense has played well above average recently: recording a takeaway in 46 of their last 55 games and breaking up nine passes last week in addition to 3 picks.
This secondary can get after it, and LSU’s receivers may not have the kind of space to create that they did against Southern. Daniels’ ability to extend plays will help make time downfield, and the QB can throw his receivers open on the move, an advantage MSU doesn’t quite have.
Not having Maason Smith is a massive blow for LSU and its ability to shrink the pocket and throw quarterbacks off schedule. But his absence is also a good opportunity for other players to audition for a more significant role: Mississippi State is brutal to get after, allowing just three sacks on 98 pass attempts.
But if State’s edge blockers can keep Will Rogers upright early, he can move the ball in the air almost at will, and his targets have the gas to get severe yards after the catch.